Terminal patient to donate van

Friends of Dan Keenan describe him as a gentle and giving man.

He’s a former Nordic skier, high school football star, rancher and truck driver.

Even when facing his own mortality, his thoughts are with others stricken by the same disease, ALS.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movement. It strikes middle-aged men more than women, and most die within three to five years of diagnosis.

The 57-year-old Grand Junction man was diagnosed three years ago. He’s now in a wheelchair and has lost the use of his limbs.

“He’s very upbeat. He’s handled this probably better than anybody and he doesn’t like people to help him,” said his sister, Cindy Keenan.

The wheelchair is filled with computer equipment, making it heavy and cumbersome. Keenan is a tall man and most handicapped equipped vans are too small for his needs.

His family purchased a $40,000 custom van specifically made to accommodate the weight of the wheelchair and his height.

Not every family can make such a purchase when facing a terminal illness and Dan wants to help other ALS patients in the future.

“It’s one of his last wishes,” Cindy Keenan said, while explaining her family’s effort to raise enough money to pay the bank note on the vehicle. “We still need $30,000.”

There will be a number of fundraising events to help raise money for the van, she said, starting with a “Dinner for Dan.”

The “Dinner for Dan” will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at Crossroads United Methodist Church, 599 30 Road. Dinner will be $10 per person or $30 per family.

Also, there will be a silent auction and cake walk. Auction items include two round-trip tickets to the Denver Stock Show. Other donations for the auction are needed.

Dan Keenan said there will be just a couple of rules for anybody who inherits his van: No smoking and no negative thoughts or communication.

While he still needs his van, he can’t stop thinking of those who also need it.

“Knowing that we’ll be able to give it to someone would just mean so much to him,” Cindy Keenan said.

Direct donations can be made to — and other event listings are at — http://www.keenanvan.com.


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