Dan Carlson


Dan Carlson has been a friend of mine for over 37 years.  32 of those years, Dan’s been confined to a wheelchair.  A few weeks after our high school graduation (1988), Dan was the victim of a distracted driver and sustained a tragic auto accident that left him a C5-6 quadriplegic… permanently paralyzed from the chest down with use of his arms but not of his hands. On a beautiful summer day, another teen driver, reaching for a pack of cigarettes, topped a hill in Dan’s lane.  After swerving to avoid a head on collision, Dan’s car left a steep embankment and came to rest upside down in a creek, hidden by trees and not visible from the road.  Dan could not move to free himself or call for help.  The Good Lord had plans for Dan and He rescued Dan through a good Samaritan. After a long road of recovery, years of professional education (2 master’s degrees), decades of service to student-athletes, Dan is currently a senior athletic administrator at the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB).  Through the power of forgiveness, Dan has been able to see God’s plan and has been able to accomplish great things professionally while helping others along the way.

Dan is an incredible inspiration to me, our friends and anyone who is blessed to meet him.  Despite monumental effort to do what most of us take for granted, Dan focuses every day on what God has given him.  He wastes no time worrying about what’s been taken.  For decades, Dan has overcome many odds to mentor hundreds if not thousands of collegiate student-athletes in multiple athletic departments from Mercer, Georgia Tech, to the University of Tennessee and now the UAB Blazers.  One of Dan’s greatest blessings has been the ability to drive a van that has so much technological equipment, it looks like a Top Gun fighter cockpit.  This piece of equipment enables Dan the independence that allows him to work at UAB and to provide the much-needed Christian inspiration, encouragement and mentorship that keeps his student-athletes successful in sports and more importantly, in academics and life.

The van that allows Dan this independence to serve others has exceeded its service life and has become dangerous to drive. My friend Dan needs a new van to continue to have the independence to serve his student-athletes, his church and his community.  If Dan quit his job and became a dependent of the state, the government would provide more assistance.  Dan’s income on paper prevents his eligibility for enough assistance to cover the cost.  They fail to account that Dan spends over half his annual income on medical expenses and care givers required to help him through the day and evening.

The cost of a replacement van, with the level of technology Dan needs to operate it, is a little over $170,000.  The state of Alabama has agreed to cover some of the cost for which Dan is grateful.  The amount we are partnering with Helping Hands to raise is $80,000.  I know that is a big ask, I really do. Dan is a hard worker and very proud; but his ongoing care and medical expenses are just too high to afford the van that gives him the independence to serve others.   A very special friend of mine connected us with Helping Hands and WOW, what a ministry they have here.  They have teamed with Dan to set up this project to allow folks who are so led, to give a tax-deductible donation.  We are very thankful to them and very thankful to you for taking the time to learn about the most inspirational person I have ever had the pleasure of calling my friend.  If you are not in a position to donate, we totally understand. If you could offer a few prayers for Dan, we truly believe that’s worth more than money.  God Bless You!!

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. ESV

* All Donations are the property of Helping Hands Ministries and to be used at the discretion of Helping Hands Ministries.