Former University of Richmond basketball team manager Dan Woolley lived to be only 25 years old, but thanks to friend and teammate Kevin Steenberge, his memory will carry on.
On Sept. 3, 2010, Steenberge climbed Japan's tallest mountain, Mount Fuji, to raise money for an annual fundraiser he created called "Do It For Dan."
He announced his plans to climb the mountain on Facebook this summer and sent invitations to all of his friends to contribute funds. Steenberge set benchmarks in fundraising to help garner support.
"If we reach $2,500 in donations, I will summit in a Spider basketball jersey," he said on the "Do It For Dan" Facebook page. "If we reach $3,000 in donations, I will summit in the uniform and fly a Richmond flag from the highest point in Japan, aimed directly back at the Pacific Ocean to the Robins Center."
Steenberge exceeded his goals, and as of last week, raised $6,915 for the Dan Woolley Education fund, an award given to a senior manager of either the Richmond men's or women's basketball program. The donations came from 64 different supporters who spanned five continents.
In a Facebook update after his climb, Steenberge said: "I stripped down out of my cold gear in the 28 degree air, to some looks of shock and horror by those around me to my Spider Jersey... I turned east, directly in to the rising sun, aimed the flag directly at UR and let out my own good morning yell."
Woolley and Steenberge were unlikely roommates at Richmond. Steenberge, the team's center, stood 6 feet, 10 inches, while Woolley, because of a disorder called nephrotic syndrome that forced the removal of his kidneys, was only five feet tall.
Peter Thomas, who played two years on the Richmond men's basketball team with Woolley and Steenberge from 2005 to 2006 and is now director of basketball operations, remembered the command that Woolley had in the locker room.
"Dan was always on top of you. A lot of times the managers tell you to put your shoes away, put your laundry away; you're like, 'Whatever ... I'll get to it.' If Dan told you to do something you did it, because you didn't want to face the wrath of Dan Woolley."
Thomas said the first time he saw Woolley at practice, he was unsure about him, but as time went on he found that Woolley had a powerful presence, even among team members who stood almost two feet taller than him.
"Dan might have only came up to Kevin's hip, but he had a fire in him," Thomas said. "But Kevin was laid back ... Dan would leave notes for Kevin to clean up his room, take out the trash, do the dishes. It was pretty hysterical."
Thomas said that Woolley never complained, even though his heath issues forced him to spend 30 hours a week on dialysis. He called Woolley "a guy who had everything against him, but still managed to thrive."
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In a Facebook message, Steenberge said that he was disappointed that it took him so long to do something on Woolley's behalf, but he was thrilled it came together so well.
"Dan always sat back and watched me and our other teammates do wild things and he would just laugh and shake his head," Steenberge said. "I hope he was laughing and shaking his head at the sight of me crawling up a mountain in Japan in a Spider jersey."
Steenberge said the future aspiration for "Do It For Dan" was to stay creative.
"There are so many of us who continue to love Dan and we will never let his fund dry up," Steenberge said. "He would have done the same for any of us."
Contact staff writer Zak Kozuchowski at email@example.com
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