Beloit native raises money for charities on wheelchair trek to Lambeau Field
170-mile trip expected to take 40-50 days
JANESVILLE, Wis. — Dennis Schulze is no stranger to the cold, so he’s not fazed by the idea of having the wind whip his face as he propels his wheelchair down the road for hours on end.
In fact, he’s looking forward to it.
“I’m just going to take my time, relax. I enjoy it,” Schulze said.
He’s taking off from Janesville Thursday morning for a 170-mile trek to Lambeau Field to raise money for several causes that are close to his heart.
“I do Alzheimer’s in memory of my dad. I do cancer in memory of my mom,” Schulze said.
He’s had a rough past few years after losing his right leg in a bad wreck in 2012 and then watching his mom and dad pass away in the years following. He’s raising money to help others who are affected by Alzheimer ‘s disease and cancer. Schulze is also fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, March of Dimes and to support families of fallen soldiers in honor of his cousin Ryan Copeland who was killed in the line of duty as a McFarland police officer in 2015.
Schulze took a similar journey to Wrigley Field in December for the same causes. He’s hoping to inspire others with his story.
“There’s a lot of people with disabilities, don’t give up,” Schulze said. “There’s things you can do.”
He expects the trip to Lambeau to take between 40 and 50 days. He’ll have his close friend, Joan Sohn, riding in a car alongside him during the trek.
“He’s very determined, and when he puts his mind to something, he just does it,” Sohn said.
She also accompanied Schulze on his trip to Wrigley. She said when he first told her his idea, she thought he was crazy, but after joining him on his first trip, she was changed.
“My whole outlook on the public has totally changed,” Sohn said. “I was never really a trusting person before, but the kindness and the generosity that we experienced with the first journey, my whole outlook has changed.”
Schulze said he’s also hoping to spread good news and hope in a world where people focus so much on negativity.
“I get so many people coming by. They honk, they ‘God Bless’ me,” he said. “And that’s like filling up my tank.”
Schulze said the Wisconsin State Patrol was going to help him plan the best route. He’s preparing to leave around 9 a.m. Thursday from the cow statue on Milton Avenue. He said he’ll probably travel about five to seven miles a day. He has family along the way to Green Bay, so he said he’ll sleep there some nights. Other nights, he’ll sleep in churches if they are offered or in motels when he can afford them, but he said everything always works out.
“It falls into place,” he said. “I couldn’t plan it any better than having it fall into place.”
People can follow Schulze’s journey on Facebook by searching ” Dennis’s Lambeau Journey. ” He said he’d try to post daily updates. He’s also challenging professional sport stars to make a $5 donation to charity.
When Schulze gets to Green Bay, he’ll walk the last half-mile with his prosthetic leg.
“There’s people that can’t walk there or even be put in a wheelchair to get there,” he said. “So the last half-mile is for those who can’t walk.”
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