By Patrick Mares
Times Journal Staff
Dennis Schulz is about 18 miles away from finishing a 170 mile, roughly 50 day journey from Janesville, WI to Lambeau Field by wheelchair. He passed through Calumet County earlier this week.
Why? For charity. He says he’s making the trip to support five charities he feels personally connected to: the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Law Enforcement Death Response team (LEDR) an organization that pitches in when service people fall in the line of duty.
The 55 year old Beloit native knows what it is like to be in a tough place. On June 20 of 2012 the former trucker was in an accident with a drunk driver. After seven hours paramedics were forced to remove Schulz’ leg, while he was still awake to extract him from the vehicle. Eventually doctors had to remove everything below his thigh. His father passed away from Alzheimer’s the morning after the surgery. After another year and a half he lost his mother to cancer.
Schulz says the March of Dimes, gave his young cousin Mason needed help. And his cousin Sgt. Ryan Copeland, a 10 year green beret vet died in the line of duty with the Farland Police Department. As for St. Jude’s, Schulz says he’s always been soft on kids.
Schulz says he’s seen a great deal of kindness on his trip, whether from hotels willing to offer rooms to him and his backup crew Joan Sohn at cost or random donations from passerby. He’s hoping to extend that kindness. Meeting him at Lambeau Field will be one Charlie Knuth.
Schulz heard about the 10 year old Darboy native suffering a rare skin disease and asked if Charlie would be willing to lead him into the stadium. It’s amazing Schulz says, to see a kid with so many problems be so happy, and he wanted to share the best part of the journey with him.