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A dose of Dan: Finding the heart of a community

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From page A4 | March 25, 2013 | 1 Comment

El Dorado Hills is one of those classic American suburbs that have many people involved in all kinds of activities, but it’s not always readily apparent that hearts are plugged into these community activities.

What I mean by that is we can all become involved in something for more self-serving reasons, whether it is for our children or our own entertainment, than for the benefit of a community as a whole or for another person directly.

It doesn’t mean we’re lesser people if that’s the way we generally connect to the community, given schedules, obligations or personal desires. But it does mean we have opportunities to plug our hearts into something if we’re bold enough to seek it out.

I suppose that’s why it strikes us so powerfully when we hear news of people openly giving and leading with their hearts. Of course, we read about these stories in El Dorado Hills from time to time, and I have another one to add to the mix that I hope you find as special as we do.

You may recall I wrote last month about a Cameron Park man and his quadriplegic rugby quest. Dwayne Nystrom, 39, suffered an accident in 2009 that left him a quadriplegic, and Nystrom took up quadriplegic rugby about a year later to, as he said, “give me the freedom to experience what life has to offer” and for his family to see him “active enjoying a sport.”

Nystrom has since competed for the nationally ranked Sierra Storm quadriplegic rugby team, but he has been playing in a wheelchair that doesn’t fit his body and causes him to occasionally be knocked from the chair in the full-contact sport. His family’s goal was to throw a fundraiser earlier this month to help raise $5,000 for Nystrom to purchase a wheelchair specially fitted for the sport he loves.

Enter into the story a successful El Dorado Hills entrepreneur with a love for family and rugby, and who our family happens to know as well. The El Dorado Hills man read about Dwayne’s aspirations and is so moved by it that he decides to act with his heart.

The man proceeded to call our family the next day to let us know to notify Dwayne that he would write a check to cover the cost of the $5,000 wheelchair. He delivered the check shortly thereafter and had an opportunity to meet members of Dwayne’s family, thrilled to help support someone who, as he put it, inspired him with his will and determination. Now the fundraiser could be used to help fund other costs, including travel, associated with playing on the rugby team.

And as I witnessed this fine chain of events over the course of a week earlier this month, I was pleased for yet another reason to call El Dorado Hills and our county home. I had been reminded again, as we all surely have been on many occasions in our unique community, that hearts are alive and well here. They may not always be easy to find and sometimes we might have to ask, but hearts in our community are always out there ready to give and love.

Dan Francisco is an El Dorado Hills-based public relations consultant to the high-tech industry. 

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