Editor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles in the Humans of Wausau series, which is funded in part through a grant from the B. A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation. Follow the Humans of Wausau Facebook page here.
By Kelli Oligney for Wausau Pilot and Review
Kurt Danielson, 47
Q: What city are you originally from?
A: Born in La Crosse. Raised in Town of Menasha, but went to Neenah Schools. Spent the last 24 years in Wausau.
What do you do for a living?
Senior System Analyst III for Deluxe. Formally Wausau Financial Systems. Nov. 2nd will by my 24th year employed there. I work with the client’s IT team to deploy our base application and operating system requirements including security and permissions.
What was your hardest age growing up ?
Hardest age growing up was probably 22-24. I wasn’t very responsible. I didn’t do well in college so turned more to social activities rather than on studies. I wasn’t good with money and lived off credit cards and was foolish about it which in turn created many hardships and embarrassments. I’ll chalk that all up to truly being on my own without the correct guidance.
What is one of the hardest things you’ve experienced? What is something you learned about yourself from it?
Oct. 25th, 1994, I was in a house fire in La Crosse. Firefighters found me upstairs unresponsive. They got me going again and I vaguely remember being in an ambulance then in the emergency room being attended to. From there, I was in ICU for a week with severe carbon monoxide poisoning. A very wonderful friend passed in that same fire. Shortly after that, I left school and moved to Wausau. March 4th 2006, I was in a bad snowmobile accident which left me in the hospital for the rest of the month. I was ejected off my sled and hit a tree with my back breaking L1- L5 in my back, my sacrum was cracked in half, my lower left ribs were all broke, and finally, both of my hips were broken. My lungs collapsed in my second surgery and I woke up in ICU handcuffed to the bed with a breathing tube down my throat. I had to be like that for roughly three hours until I was stable – wheelchair bound for a long time and learning to walk again were all challenges. I had incredible support from my family and friends to help along the way. I’ve learned to appreciate the several opportunities that have been given to me in life and to respect what you do for yourself and what others do for you as well, since one day you will be on the other end. Be kind to people even if it’s not what is really best for you, help people with opportunities, and just be a nice person. Everyone has life struggles and sometimes giving them an ear or a safe environment can make every bit of difference.
Do you have any problems that occur from the accidents?
Not so much anymore from the fire, although I do think about it and in the fall/winter the smell of smoke from a campfire or in the fireplace reminds of the tragedy and my friend that passed. The first couple of months after was bad because the saturation of smoke in my skin and pores would come out every time I’d sweat or shower. With the snowmobile accident, I still have back issues and soreness occasionally in my hips along with nerve damage in my legs. I’m a bit paranoid to run because I’m worried about my hips breaking, but maybe the real reason is because I’m old and chubby! I think I’ll be okay, but it’s just one of those things that keeps me in-check now when I go to do anything active.
What’s your favorite local spot and why?
I really don’t have a favorite spot here in town. I’m a social person – I like to interact with people. Since I mostly work from home, I like to get out afterwards and converse. Whether that is out on the golf course, going out for dinner, a cabin up North, or a local watering hole it doesn’t really matter to me. What is important is just being able to talk about yesterday, today, or what’s happening tomorrow. It’s fun just listening. You can learn a lot about a person with just casual conversation.
What is one moment that changed you as a person?
The moment that changed me as a person was the opportunity to get a full-time job. It made me realize that this was it and time to grow-up! I needed to get my life going as an adult and do this for myself, my family, and to those who gave me this opportunity. Responsibility! They took a chance on me and now I had to show them what I can do. 24 years later I’m still there.
If you had any advice to give anyone, what would it be?
Be smart. Be respectful. Be as generous as you can as long as you feel you are doing something worthy and deserving. Be kind since as I needed help before so do others and hopefully they will be grateful. We are all in a constant learning curve. Everyday it’s something new and we have to embrace and turn it into something worthy.
What is your favorite memory of living here?
I don’t have a favorite memory, but many. I’ve met so many wonderful people that I’m still very close with and just seeing everyone’s transitions through employment, marriage, having children, and just aging in general and how our responsibilities and values change with age creates even more lasting memories.
What made you stay in Wausau?
Wausau is a nice community. It’s expanding culturally and exciting to see all the new businesses, large and small come into the area. It provides options that weren’t available before. I’ve had and still have many relatives here so I’ve been in the area in one way or another all my life creating a very familiar surrounding that I enjoy. I was fortunate enough for my Aunt and Uncle taking me in after leaving La Crosse and giving me an opportunity to get back on my feet for which I’ll be forever grateful. All of my family has been generous and supportive. My parents are still in the Fox Valley and I have family that are in Marshfield, New London, Green Bay, and Seattle so Wausau to me is a central hub. I’m close to all those that are important to me just a short car ride away as well as those whom are important to me here in Wausau.
What motivates you each day?
Motivation comes from seeing family and friends being successful and happy. Success can be in many forms and same goes for happiness. Those are positive aspects that I want in my life and seeing how they do it as well as talking about it points me in the right direction.
What’s your favorite quote and why?
I’m not good on reciting quotes, but I still have a fortune cookie slip hanging up at work that says, “The thing that you fear only wants your love.” That can be interpreted several different ways so I’ll let you decide where you want to take it.