Born 1950 in Idaho Falls. It was quickly learned that Dan was born with congenital aortic valve stenosis. Tragedy struck immediately when when his father took his own life when Dan was one year old. His Mom then took her life when he was two. Various relatives took Dan in to provide a home and try to provide some normalcy in his life..
In spite of these physical and mental setbacks, Dan went on to attend University of Washington on scholarship then moved back to Boise State University where he became an All American and was drafted into the NFL. Unfortunately Dan's heart problems were too much to overcome and he could not play the game he loved any longer. Dans never give up attitude would not allow this to define him.
In 2005, at 55 years old Dan underwent a six hour open heart surgery, a five way bypass and Aortic Valve Replacement. In the years after, Dan had 4 additional heart procedures.
Doctors put heavy restrictions on Dan following his first procedure. They told him he could begin by walking. "How far?" Dan asked. "As far as you can" his doctor replied. Dan then began walking the Greenbelt. After a few months that just wasn't enough, so he set his sites on the foothills and began hiking the trails. Then local mountains, then he began traveling around the world hiking anything that looked like a challenge.
Dan kept pushing himself, often times against doctors wishes. His attitude has always been to live life and that was exactly what he was going to do. This led him to the Grand Canyon and his first hike to the bottom and back to the rim. This is a grueling journey and often takes him late into the night and sometimes even to the following morning to make the round trip. These trips often require many breaks when he feels his heart "not acting normal". He has since made this trip 48 times and his goal is to reach number 50 in March of 2024.
When Dan learned about the mission of DFI and our focus on prevention, he wanted to help. He identified with one of our key youth campaigns built around the theme "Natural High". He has been pursuing his own Natural Highs his whole life and identified this with his ability to achieve his goals, his never give up attitude, and maintaining a positive outlook on life no matter the challenges that may exist. We are honored to be part of Dan's journey and appreciate his bringing attention to the challenges of substance abuse. His goal is to inspire youth to set goals, keep smiling, and maintain a positive attitude as they choose to live a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.
If you would like to support Dan's efforts and help us continue to encourage drug-free communities across Idaho, please consider donating to Dan's 50th Grand Canyon hike fundraiser. 100% of donations go to DrugFree Idaho to be used in continuing our mission of substance abuse prevention. Thank you for your support!
DrugFree Idaho works to create a drug-free culture within our workplaces, schools, and communities. We focus on preventing youth substance abuse, enriching families, and positively impacting our community.