Every Veterans Day, dialysis patient Ed Danowski reflects on all those who served and went before us, especially the uncle he lost in World War II, the best friend he lost in Vietnam and the several other family members who all fought for our country with honors. The 81-year-old served as an Officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to the Vietnam War leading advanced training for about 180 men at a time before they left for combat. He received a letter recognizing his leadership, and his military career would have continued in the Army Reserves if it wasn’t for a serious car accident at age 29 that left him with a lifelong disability and made it impossible for him to pass his regular physical.
It was his military training that prepared him for this life adjustment as he shifted into the business world. “The military taught me both how to not give up, and also to engage with people, to understand and motivate them, but most importantly, how to listen,” he said. He rose to the challenge of living with his disability and became a high-level executive.
That training would come in handy again several years later in 2016 when Ed suffered another set of serious health problems – after surviving cancer, his kidneys failed and he required dialysis three times a week to cleanse his blood of wastes and toxins. Instead of letting this set him back, Ed pursued new passions and began to take advantage of the many hours spent at Fresenius Kidney Care Racine to write books. Now a retired businessman, author and painter, Ed and his wife, five kids, 11 grandchildren and one greatgrandchild share their creative pursuits in writing, music and art.
“I learned that ‘no’ doesn’t have to be an answer, that I can overcome roadblocks and continue to do the things I love to do,” he said.
Painting first became a passion for Ed as a way to heal after his car accident, and ever since, he and his family have been featured in galleries as well as on the walls at Fresenius Kidney Care Racine. Following 9/11, Ed created and dedicated three different paintings to those who lost their lives at each of the three sites. With the help of the American Red Cross and his congressman, a print of each painting was presented to all of the families who lost a loved one, and also to the firehouses that lost firefighters. Ed was later recognized for his contributions by Former President George W. Bush.
The piece titled “Flowers” went to families and fire stations affected in New York City.
The piece titled “Lighthouse” went to families affected by the Pentagon attack.
The piece titled “Seagull” went to the families affected in Pennsylvania.