Mandan volunteers spread the word about NDAD, Giving Hearts Day

Posted: Feb 07 2017

Sometime Thursday (Feb. 9), Josette and Rob Severson of rural Mandan, N.D., will go online to the website GivingHeartsDay.org, search for the charitable nonprofit NDAD – and give with all of their hearts.

The Seversons, who support several charitable causes, have made ample room in their hearts for NDAD – the North Dakota Association for the Disabled -- since first learning several years ago about the charitable nonprofit.

NDAD provides needed help to children and adults with disabilities and health concerns – the type of help that can increase their mobility, independence and quality of life.

The Seversons were pleased to find out NDAD had joined with more than 350 other North Dakota and western Minnesota charities in the Giving Hearts fundraiser for 2017. NDAD’s participation gives the Seversons and others who donate a first-time opportunity to see their gifts of $10 or more matched by special friends of NDAD.

Josette and Rob Severson, at the 2016 Escape to the Lake.

Giving Hearts Day is “a great thing, and an easy way to donate to help a cause,” Josette said. “And it’s potentially a very good fit for NDAD.”

The Seversons have not limited their NDAD participation to financial gifts.

For several years, the pair -- high school sweethearts who will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in late June -- have been volunteers at Escape to the Lake, North Dakota’s annual adaptive recreation event founded and organized by NDAD since the early 1990s. Escape now takes place every June.

The Seversons have every intention of continuing the Escape volunteer work.

“Absolutely,” Josette said. “We’ve blocked out that weekend going forward.”

Escape gives children and adults with physical disabilities a chance to water ski safely and enjoyably, thanks to adaptive ski equipment, professional oversight and, on average, 12 volunteers to assist each individual trip around the lake.

“Most people would say ‘it can’t be done,’” said Rob, an engineer who owns embedded design company USBmicro and also CircuitGizmos, an online electronics business aimed at other engineers and hobbyists. “It can be done, and it looks easy and there’s a lot of difficulty behind it. It’s a can-do kind of thing, and it works.”

Escape also offers participants pontoon rides, a performance ski show and lunch. It takes place not far from the Severson home at Nelson Lake Recreation Area, located in Oliver County.

“We had seen signage (for the event),” said Josette, who teaches firearms safety and other classes as owner of Prairie Patriot Firearms Training (Rob also assists her.) “But we never really put two and two together.”

That changed after they met and became friends with Don Santer, NDAD’s chief executive officer, at a firearms event. He told them about NDAD’s involvement with Escape, and they attended the next scheduled event to see for themselves. They were hooked.

“It was really heartwarming for me to see everybody coming together and helping folks who have disabilities who would never have had that chance to do something that we take for granted,” Josette said. “It was really cool.”

Volunteering at Escape makes for a long, but “very rewarding” day, Josette said. “Hard work, but it feels great.”

Rob added, “I completely agree with Josette.”

Escape helps the Severson put their own experience with their one offspring, now an adult son, in perspective. He had health issues, mostly during his childhood, including asthma and some skin concerns.

“Every year when we participate in Escape to the Lake, I do say a few prayers,” Josette said. “I’m thankful my child is healthy.”

The Seversons give thanks for NDAD, too.

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Remember, your gift to NDAD of $10 or more qualifies for a match from generous friends of NDAD. Thursday (Feb. 9) will be a wonderful day AND wonderful way to enhance your investment, one of the best you’ll make in all of 2017.

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More about NDAD and its programs: http://NDAD.org

More about Escape to the Lake:http://ndad.org/ser…/RecreationalActivities/EscapetotheLake/.


Karen Schelinder
Karen Schelinder followed a path of helping others, ever since she served as a Lutheran church parish worker in the 1960s. When someone sought help, her philosophy had been simple. “There’s a reason they need it,” said Schelinder, told NDAD in an early 2013 interview. Karen died the following year at age 66.   In the ...
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