300 people will have the mobility that they didn’t have before, and all because of a bike ride. The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club had their 5th Annual Howard S. Danner, Jr. Wheels for Wheels Cycling Challenge and raised an amazing $30,000 for the purchase of wheelchairs for those who cannot afford one.
Rotarian John Danner, Pastor at the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ created the Wheels 4 Wheels fundraiser in honor of his father, Rev. Howard S. Danner, Jr, a Pastor and College Professor, who was struck by a drunk driver while biking and was paralyzed from the waist down, leaving him in a wheelchair for his remaining 17 years.
On John’s 60th birthday, 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 over 200 wheelchairs in Trinidad later that year. Last year, in 2020 pre-COVID, John 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 this cycling fundraiser. This allowed for the purchase and delivery of over 250 wheelchairs to Barbados and Trinidad.
This year, it was discussed and decided that a ride could again be completed, with minor changes to ensure the safety of all participants. An incredible $30,000 was raised by the riders and their sponsors, which will enable the Wheelchair Foundation to purchase 300 wheelchairs for distribution to those who cannot afford one. “I am so pleased that this yearly effort honors the memory of my Dad, who spent seventeen years as a paraplegic in a wheelchair! Over the two years of the club event in his name, and the first solo ride when I turned sixty, we have funded close to seven hundred life-changing wheelchairs! Amazing!” said Rotarian Rev. Dr. John Danner, creator of the Wheels for Wheels Cycling Challenge.
This year, the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club President, Don McDonald, rode the most miles clocking in at 100 miles, followed by Paul Prestis with 77 miles and Wheels for Wheels founder, John Danner with 72.5 miles!
The Wheelchair Foundation is a nonprofit organization 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 has long been a significant supporter of the Wheelchair Foundation and its mission to provide mobility and dignity to people in need throughout the world. This year, despite the challenges of a global pandemic, they have once again gone above and beyond expectations with this incredibly generous gift which will have an immediate and long lasting impact on the lives of so many. We give our heartfelt thanks to their members,” stated Steve Agius, Rotary Club of Bonita Naples, Chairman District 6960 Wheelchair Committee.
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary will be holding a hybrid meeting both on Zoom and in person at The Community House, 2173 Periwinkle Way on Sanibel. Doors open at 7:30am, the meeting will begin at 8:00 am.