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Dan Evert’s Story: I Want To See Yosemite One More Time…

Written by Florence Evert Smith, Dan’s Mom —

Dan Evert - photo courtesy Florence Evert Smith Dan grew up in Oakhurst, California, when the town was still quite small. He attended Oakhurst and Wasuma Elementary Schools, and Yosemite High. As a family, we attended Oakhurst Lutheran Church, and he helped build the Mariposa Lutheran Church.

As a teen, Dan spent much of his time at Bass Lake. The older he got, the higher up the mountain he climbed. He and friends (and later a new wife) climbed Half Dome several times doing beautiful photography each time, and they even met up with bears.

Later on he was employed by Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp. He worked for them for 11 years before moving out of state to further his career. His heart is still here in these mountains, and his hope is to come home for a visit.

Dan Evert in his wheelchairDan was diagnosed with ALS on May 13, 2010. As with every affected family, we were all devastated and full of questions. Dan never for a second felt sorry for himself. He learned so much in such a short time, that the once shy young man stood before a room full of listeners as he told his story, trying to get the word out to as many as he could.

For a while, things stayed the same at home. Dan and his wife Janelle (Doolittle) both continued to work. Kids Leslie and Devon went to school. He taught them how to do things around the house and yard that he normally did. They became very active with the local ALS Rocky Mountain Chapter, forming his own team and named it Dan’s Dreamers. Since that beginning, Dan’s Dreamers has far exceeded their expectations, raising thousands of dollars over what had been pledged for support of ALS Research and Patient Assistance.

Dan Evert 2During that time, he was receiving awards at work because of his work ethic and construction abilities. Dan Evert was always the “go-to man.” As a chief engineer in property operations at an Embassy Suites Hotel in Loveland, Colorado, as well as a hiker, athlete, husband and father, Dan said, “I could do anything that came my way.”

He installed voice recognition software on the computers in his office so he could send emails and create spreadsheets. The Embassy Suites Loveland Hotel Spa & Conference Center wanted him to stay working as long as he could. They even purchased a Segscooter for him to get around quickly. In 2013 Dan received the award of the National Stars of the Industry, Outstanding Manager of the year from the American Hotel & Lodging Assn.

But as this disease is known for, little by little the patient loses muscle control, and soon Dan faced the hardest day so far, having to discuss the concept of someone taking over the job he loved. Employees of ES, Loveland gave Dan a great sendoff. With his heart heavy, he knew he must carry on with his Advocacy for ALS.

Dan Evert 3His next big step was to go to Washington, D.C. to lobby for funding for ALS Research. I must say, he had the drive of a high school kid. Everyone got letters to sign and send to Congressmen across the country. The trip was hard, but gave Dan even more to strive for. Soon he was asked to be on the Board of his local ALS Rocky Mountain Chapter. As a result of his persistence, he was invited to be on the President’s Advisory Panel by the ALSA Association and proudly his name was added to the associations stationary.

Of course there was the Ice Bucket Challenge… so he said “go big or go home.” I can’t believe he Challenged Sammy Hagar, The Sammy Hagar. The whole family took part in that one, each one challenging friends and family. Again, doing an outstanding job.

Dan Evert 4Receiving recognition for all your hard work keeps your head up high, but the truth of the matter is along with the fun times, they had to deal with the progression of ALS. Dan took part in several Clinical Studies, traveling out of state for the appointments. He went so far as to push the doctors to install a DPS, a Diaphragm Pacing System that would help him breathe.

In April of 2015, Dan and Janelle were honored as ALS Patient and Caregiver by the Colorado Neurological Institute. You can view the video that was done when they were nominated. The Everts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVEinXZEEDE.

The only thing Dan has expressed as a wish is to visit Yosemite National Park and Pismo Beach just once more. His loving sister-in-law, Rene Liebert, also of Loveland, Colo., has set up a GoFundMe account to help raise funds for the trip. Dan can no longer fly and their Van is not trustworthy of the trip back home.

Dan Evert with wife Janelle, kids Leslie and Devon - photo courtesy Florence Evert SmithPlease consider even a small donation to his account to help us reach the goal. Renting a fully Handicap Accessible Van is in the thousands of dollars. You can go to GoFundMe.com/Dan Evert, or message me on Facebook. We are so proud of the life Dan and Janelle have made for their family. Please share this post.

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