Iowa is solidly Midwest. It’s agriculture, crops, livestock and chores. It’s families, strong communities and active schools. It’s neighbors helping neighbors and being neighborly. It’s crossing fences and tearing down walls.
Midwestern roots and a farming career gave Jim Dane of Iowa City, Iowa, a serious perspective on tetanus.
“We are exposed to the time-worn admonition from very early in our lives: You need your tetanus shot, because you never know when you might step on a rusty nail, clip an old worn fence, or expose a cut in your hand to soil,” says Jim. “We are used to dirt. And that soil can easily carry the tetanus bacteria. So our parents, our relatives and even our neighbors ask, ‘Have you had your tetanus shot?’”
Kiwanis roots also run deep in Jim’s family and have taught him to appreciate service and the global community. Jim joined the Old Capitol Kiwanis Club of Iowa City nearly 12 years ago. His grandfather, father, brother, uncle and cousin are also Kiwanis members.
So what do this farmer, tetanus and global service have in common? Turns out, a lot. Global service and tetanus go hand-in-hand with Kiwanis International’s Global Campaign for Children, and it seemed natural for Jim to get involved with The Eliminate Project.
“Lenora Hanna recruited me to be part of her volunteer team. I said yes before I knew what I was getting into,” recalls Jim with a chuckle. “I understand we live in a global community. Our neighbors aren’t necessarily those we see. Our neighbors across the world breathe, work and play like we do and are exposed to the soil just like us. They need their tetanus shots, too.”
The birth of Jim’s great niece paralleled his involvement with The Eliminate Project and provided additional motivation to raise funds.
“Angel was born at only 27 weeks old. She endured 11 surgeries in her first year of life and faced several life-threatening complications. Her mother hasn’t left her side,” recalls Jim. “When a child is sick, it takes away hope. Kiwanis has an opportunity to give hope and impact millions of families and communities through The Eliminate Project. This is such an important priority for all of us. And it is so cheap. It seems like a no brainer. Sometimes we need someone else to remind us what’s important.”
Jim’s passion is evident. So is his commitment to raise funds and ensure Kiwanis clubs and members have an opportunity to participate. He rallied members of his home club to commit to raising on average $750 per member to become a Model Club then upgrade to a $100,000 commitment. As a district coordinator for The Eliminate Project, he oversees a team of volunteers in the Nebraska-Iowa District of Kiwanis, identifying potential ways to raise funds. He also visits clubs to explain why Kiwanis members need to take action.
“It’s a project Midwesterners understand. It demonstrates care for our neighbors who don’t have resources like we do. Clubs can do a simple lemonade stand to raise money. The families we are helping can’t,” adds Jim. “We want our neighbors to have a good life. We want their children to be healthy. We have to be the ones to help.”
The satisfaction of saving lives is just one of the many benefits of serving as a district coordinator. Forging friendships with people who share a similar passion to help kids is another. It has also refined his leadership skills and yielded a unique advantage for his upcoming term as governor.
“Volunteering for The Eliminate Project is the best thing I could have done to meet people and make connections,” adds Jim.
“Tetanus doesn’t ever go away; it’s in soil everywhere. We receive shots when we are born. Not everyone has that opportunity. Kiwanians understand it. We are succeeding and won’t stop until our goal is met. We’re making a difference between life and death for families around the world.”