I’ve known quite a few “characters” in my life but none could match the outrageous, funny, tough, sentimental, kind-hearted personality of my friend, Dan Christopherson who died nearly 4 years ago when that same big heart of his gave out at just 53.
Dan was a huge guy. He must have stood 6’4”. When I first met him he was pretty heavy too but after suffering a heart attack and being diagnosed with diabetes, he made up his mind to lose weight and did. Dan loved radio and had a perfect voice for it..deep and booming. Unfortunately for him, Dan wasn’t the least bit hesitant about using that voice to say whatever was on his mind over the air. Listeners, for the most part, loved it but program directors not so much .. which meant Dan kept bouncing from one station to another throughout his broadcasting career. He took all his terminations in stride..even joked about them… knowing another job would turn up. He also joked about his prosthetic leg after diabetes forced the amputation of his real one. He once said to me, “Doug, this will be great if I ever join Alcoholics Anonymous because I’ll only have to complete a “six” step program. Dan loved magic and would perform tricks anywhere anytime for any one. He was good at it too. He was also the perfect choice as stadium announcer for the Sioux Falls Canaries baseball team. And, if you ever needed someone to help with a fundraiser, well, Dan was your man.
Then in the spring of 2005.. three days after walking his lovely daughter, Megan, down the aisle at her wedding, she was killed in a Colorado car crash. As unimaginably difficult as it would be to function following such a tragedy, Dan decided to put the best possible spin on it and, along with his wife, Dawn, started the “Megan Fund for Children’s Books” in memory of their daughter; a second grade school teacher who loved reading. In collaboration with Barnes and Noble, The Megan Fund Book Fair was created in which a percentage of store sales for one day each year would be donated to the fund. It’s allowed them to purchase thousands of books and distribute them to classrooms all over the area.
in 2007, when a friend needed a bone marrow transplant, Dan organized a “Bash for Cash” at the El Riad Shrine. A fun night filled with music and frivolity. It was a huge success and a big help toward his friend getting a transplant and beating his cancer.
Dan Christopherson wasn’t so lucky. Two weeks after the event, his finicky heart finally stopped beating. But even though he’s gone, the Bash lives on as a tribute to Dan and his sense of giving.
It will take place February 4th, at the Shrine Mosque downtown Sioux Falls and feature a night of nostalgia and rock and roll; Arlie’s All Stars, The Apostles and the Roarin’ Red Dogs will all appear on stage. Tickets are 20 dollars with all proceeds going to a 41 year old woman, Leigh Jerzak, who is in need of a bone marrow transplant.
Tickets will be available January 3rd. For ticket information call or stop by The El Riad Shrine office, 510 South Phillips, Sioux Falls, SD 57104 (605)336-1117.
Ah, Dan..I wish you were here to emcee the event and work your magic. But then again, I’ve seen you do some pretty spectacular tricks before. Got one more up your sleeve? I’ll be checking behind the curtain and listening for that familiar thundering voice just in case.