Rotary Happenings: Howard S. Danner Jr. Wheels for Wheels Cycling Challenge set
Rotary is a group of community members who come together for fun, fellowship and fundraising, in a nutshell. Being a Rotarian is more than one meeting a week, it is a way to connect with neighbors, meet new friends, network a business, volunteer for the community and do wonderful things locally and afar, a term we have come to represent as “DoGoodery.” One example of this that the Rotary participates in is coming up.
A little backstory: In 1992, a tragic accident left a father paralyzed when he was struck by a drunk driver while biking. He was paralyzed from the waist down and suffered cognitive damage as well. His remaining 17 years were spent in a wheelchair. It allowed him to have access to places and things in life that we take for granted, like going to church or the doctor. Imagine the difficulties he would have encountered if he didn’t have access to a wheelchair. Transportation to anywhere would have been close to impossible. The man was the Rev. Howard S. Danner Jr., pastor and college professor and also the father of Rotarian the Rev. Dr. John Danner, with Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ.
Seeing first hand the positive effects of having accessibility to a wheelchair left it’s mark on Danner. On his 60th birthday a few years back, he rode his bike from just north of Fort Lauderdale to Key West, a total of 190 miles as a fundraiser for wheelchairs. He was calling it Wheels for Wheels/60 for 60. His goal was to raise enough money to purchase 60 wheelchairs. He ended up raising an incredible $22,000 by himself and helped distribute a number of them in Trinidad later that year.
Last year, in 2020 pre-COVID, Danner had the idea to ride his bike once again as a fundraiser for wheelchairs, a cause Rotary contributes to annually, and include Rotarians in the fundraiser. It would be called the “Howard S. Danner Jr. Wheels for Wheels Cycling Challenge.” A generous $26,000 was raised in the first year of the fundraiser. It allowed for us to purchase and send over 250 wheelchairs to Barbados and Trinidad.
This year with slight modifications, Rotary will again host the Howard S. Danner Jr. Wheels for Wheels Cycling Challenge on Nov. 21. Pledges can be made to any of the Sanibel-Captiva Rotarians who will ride in the event and donations will be accepted as well. One hundred dollars purchases one wheelchair for someone in need. All donations will go to the Wheelchair Foundation. The organization is leading an international effort to create awareness of the needs and abilities of people with physical disabilities, to promote the joy of giving, create global friendship, and to deliver a wheelchair to every child, teen, and adult in the world who needs one, but cannot afford one. For those people, the Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club and Wheelchair Foundation delivers hope, mobility and independence to many.
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club holds a meeting on Fridays at 7:30 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel, and via Zoom. To attend in person, email Bill Harkey at William.Harkey@gmail.com; attendance is limited to 20 people. To take part via Zoom, call 239-472-7257. For more information, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary.