Deserved and Distinguished

on March 8, 2019

by Michele Riter, Community Relations Assistant

   The Greater Manhattan Community Foundation recognize community members for their time, talent and treasure. Community Foundation Awards (CFAs) are awarded annually. Of the two Time Awards, the Distinguished Volunteer Award is given to a deserving candidate 50 years and older. Don Rasmussen, Meadowlark resident, is a finalist for the 2019 Distinguished Volunteer Award. The top three finalists were among nominees for their significant, positive impact on the organization or the community served. Other finalists include James Koelliker, Meadowlark Passport member, and Gary Bigley.

   Don was nominated by Michelle Haub, Special Programs Leader, Becky Fitzgerald, Development Director, and William Riley Jr., Past Chair of International Acacia Fraternity Foundation. A qualification for the nomination that the person “has made a difference with their personal time by providing exemplary volunteer service.” Don has done just that.

   Not only does Meadowlark currently benefit from Don’s involvement, but also future residents, staff and visitors are sure to feel the positive effects of his nearly 12 years of volunteerism. In 2009, Don was elected to Meadowlark’s Board of Trustees, serving for five years.

   Don and his wife, Bea, have been great supporters for outdoor and recreational opportunities for the Meadowlark community. With financial and insightful contributions from Don, the walking trail, campus parking and pedestrian safety, fishing pond and othervarious enhancements were made possible.

   In 2004, Don was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (Pd), a progressive degenerative neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. Don is a champion of living well with Pd. In true altruistic nature, he is committed to the fight and advocate for those with Parkinson’s to live their fullest life by being active and learning about the disease.

   The service Don has offered reaches beyond Meadowlark and into the Manhattan and Flint Hill Community. Don actively has served on Meadowlark Parkinson’s Program Core Team for nine years and the Speedy Pd Race for Parkinson’s disease Planning Team since the race’s inception 11 years ago. His volunteer efforts have helped the program reach more than 800 people every year, and raise almost $400,000 to serve patients and caregivers living with the neurological condition that does not, yet, have a cure. Michelle Haub, described Don as having “genuine selflessness, organization, foresight and strong-willed determination. He is a man of honor, heart, and generosity.”

   Don recognized that his diagnosis opened the door for promoting a positive philosophy of responding to life issues. This became his platform for presenting to and mentoring members of Acacia Fraternity. As an alumnus of Acacia Fraternity, Don has been a role model of personal integrity, professionalism and dedication for public service to current members. The winners of the CFAs will be announced Monday, March 18, at the 6th annual Community Foundation Awards. “We hope to hear his name called out”, stated Becky Fitzgerald.