Fayetteville's Got Dan's Back

Fayetteville's Got Dan's Back

PrintDan Dean is a rather tall, beloved and soft-spoken Winslow, Ark. resident in his 40s who cares deeply about sustainability, the environment, community, making music and bicycling. While known as a quiet person, his actions of bettering his local community through his work with AmeriCorps, the OMNI Center and Bike Coalition of the Ozarks speaks for him.

In early February, Dan fell from the roof of his homestead at Winberry Farm, severely injuring his lower spine. Dan and his wife, Laura Kelly, were told by his doctor that he may never be able to walk again despite the surgeons’ effort to stabilize his injury. However, doctors recommended he continue his rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Colorado, renown for its spinal cord injury rehab program.

What occurred in the aftermath of his injury came in the form of a booster shot of humanity.

Faced with a staggering $14,200 air ambulance ride to Colorado, Dan’s friends and family started a Gofundme page to pay for the flight. In about a week, Dan’s network of family, friends and colleagues came together and raised enough money to cover the expenses of the flight.

Unfortunately, this will only be a dent in their expenses they will face for future medical expenses, continued rehabilitation at Craig and various expenses that will come with the radical lifestyle change.

So, the community rallied once again to help Dan and Laura out. This coming weekend, there will be two benefit concerts and silent auctions for Dan and his family that will feature live music, local food and a silent auction at each event with items donated from local artists and businesses all throughout northwest Arkansas. Both events ask for a $10 admission that will be donated to the cause.


Courtesy Photo
Daniel Dean is currently in a rehabilitation program at Craig Hospital in Colorado, where he is working on recovering from his spinal injury and adjusting to using a wheelchair.

The first event will be where Dan and Laura were married at Ozark Folkways in Winslow, 5 p.m. Saturday, March 7. The lineup includes music from Jesse dean, Dave Baer, Shannon Wurst, Susan Shore and Michael Cockram, and Still on the Hill. The event will be all ages with food provided.

The second event will be at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, 5 p.m. Sunday, March 8. The lineup will include music form Jeff Kearney, Cutty Rye, Ozarka Orkestra, Randall Shreve and Rochelle Bradshaw and Hypnotic. As it is at a bar, no children will be allowed, and a buffet of local food will be provided.

Additionally, several community members plan to organize a consistent revolving group of volunteer farmers to go to Winberry Farm and assist Dean and Kelly with whatever is needed.

“I am filled with gratitude for the way both of the communities I call home and friends around the world have come together to support me in this challenging time,” Dan said. “I’m humbled by the generosity of the organizers, musicians, and donors for both events and my gofundme page. Fayetteville and Winslow are both filled with loving people and I can’t wait to get home and see them again.”

After coming to Fayetteville in 1993 to study architecture, Dan quickly became involved in the local community in several ways. It’s a safe bet that the regional trail system our community now enjoys wouldn’t be what it is today without the continued input of Dan and Laura and the Bike Coalition of the Ozarks, who attended nearly every public planning meeting to see it be implemented efficiently.

“My husband, Daniel Dean, was the backbone and supporter of my work and then become a board member and instrumental part of the BikeED program, the “Share the Road” signage push and the municipal bicycle rack campaign,” Laura said. “He personally purchased the first eight racks that were installed on Dickson Street when he saw that the major street improvements failed to include them.”

A very active member in community events, Dan is one of those people you often see around town helping out, said Jerrmy Gawthrop, owner of Greenhouse Grille in Fayetteville.

“He’s the kind of guy you hope is your friend,” said Jerrmy Gawthrop, owner of Greenhouse Grille. “He’s always there for you and mild mannered. He’s just such an active, dedicated person. He’s an bicyclist, farmer, gardener. To have this accident where he can’t walk is pretty gut-wrenching.”

Dan is also very active with the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice, Ecology and helped organize their vegetarian potluck and first Sunday Open Mic Nights.

“It’s so cool to see the community come together for somebody that has had the kind of impact that Dan’s had,” said Gladys Tiffany, OMNI Center president. “It says something profound about Dan and Fayetteville. He’s been drawing in a lot of support. It really makes me really happy and feel good about my town.”

Dan is also an accomplished guitarist, percussionist and singer, having been in several bands in the music scene since coming here in 1993. He has self-recorded and released three original albums of political, philosophical folk rock on Bandcamp. Recently, he has provided percussion and drum accompaniment in The Sweets, Candy Lee’s backing band, and has been playing with her for more than six years.

“His music is awesome,” Lee said. “It’s very positive and spiritual and socially conscious. He has a couple songs that are almost in the style of worship music that are unifying of mankind. My favorite lyrics of his was ‘May you be joyful, May you know peace, May you be safe and free of suffering.’”

A Facebook group has been made for those interested to follow Dan’s recovery at www.facebook.com/DanDeanRecovery.

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