Danny’s Story

dannyDaniel lived more in his 21 years and 17 days than most people do in their entire lives. He impacted many people and strove to be the best physically, mentally, spiritually, and academically. Danny lived by a saying based on Luke 12:48: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” As his father I can say with pride he embodied this in every undertaking he had. If it was weightlifting, he studied the physiology of the human body and optimized his routine to maximize the benefits within the constraints of our physical being. If there was an opportunity to take a course that would improve his ability to be a better doctor (his academic goal) he took it regardless if it was hard or not. If you were his friend, he never left your side, and he never let you down.

Daniel had finished his Junior year at the University of Dayton in May 2012 as a UD Berry Scholar (their highest ranking of scholarship), earning a near perfect GPA in his Pre-Med curriculum. Daniel spent his three years at Dayton surrounding himself with an amazing group of young men and women that all seemed to share his passion for life, excellence in and out of the classroom, and forsaking the guilty pleasures of college life for the pursuit of training for the next phase of their adult lives.

Kathy and I witnessed the maturity and grace of these people after he was injured while canoeing in the Little Miami River on Saturday May 26, 2012. Daniel had simply rolled out of his canoe during a rest stop and hit his neck, injuring C6 and C7 of his upper spinal column. Danny was heroically pulled from the water and stabilized while his friends organized a rescue from the wilderness shores of the river with no connection to medical help. He was air lifted to the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton and underwent surgery to stabilize his neck. At that point, Danny was paralyzed from below the abdomen.

On Tuesday afternoon Danny’s condition began spiraling downward and out of control. He began suffering from Compartment Syndrome as a result of the spread of rhabdomyolysis from the breakdown of muscle tissue. Daniel was moved from the Spinal Unit to ICU where he was treated for the symptoms of the rhabdomyolysis, but the source of it could not be identified and stopped.

Daniel fought a courageous battle for the next seven days and he was never alone. The friends who were with him at UD, his high school, Bishop Hartley, and even grade school stayed by his side day and night. Unless the doctors were performing a procedure on him, he was always comforted by those who loved him. At 2:30 PM on June 5th, Danny passed away peacefully and in the company of his family and friends.

Daniel had a spirit of giving that was outlined in the verse from Luke, and it is with that spirit Danny’s Day was started. This will be held the fourth Saturday in June every year and will be centered on community service and giving back. Like Danny lived: To whom much is given, much is expected”. We all are given gifts and talents: skills of painting, landscaping, reading to the infirmed, collecting food or clothing for the needy, and countless other skills we can share in the spirit of Daniel that will live on.

Many people from around the country, and even around the world, have followed Danny’s story on my blog at: www.caringbridge.org/visit/danielarnold.

The idea of giving back to the community is not limited just to where I live. We encourage everyone reading this, regardless of where you are, to spend the fourth Saturday in June and share your talents. If the fourth Saturday is not convenient, pick a day that works for you and your family and give back to the community you live in. If you can do that wearing a Danny’s Day T-shirt, we would appreciate the financial support that allows us to do more service projects and provide the materials to do them. Please see the link above to buy a shirt and support the cause.

Thank you for reading my story about our beloved son, brother, cousin, grandson, and friend. Daniel inspired many to be a better person and he pushed us all to do our best. With this in mind take count of your blessing and give back for a few hours and make the world a better place.