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Dantzler praised for inspiring others

By Larry Fleming

Dalton Daily Citizen
February 21, 2022 12:12 am

Danny Dantzler, who had a profound impact on hundreds — if not thousands — of lives before and during his heroic battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, widely known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, passed away Friday night.

The former football star at Dalton High and the University of Georgia, and one of Dalton’s best amateur golfers, was diagnosed with ALS in July 2007. He immediately launched a personal ministry to anyone he came in contact with and worked tirelessly at Fellowship of Christian Athletes functions all across the area.
“His life of service to God and our community was going on when I got to Dalton,” said David Grusnick, executive director of the Northwest Georgia FCA. “It just breaks my heart to hear the news that Danny has passed away.”

In November 2007, friends from across Georgia honored Dantzler at “Danny Dantzler Day,” and his old college coach, Vince Dooley, participated in the fundraising event at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center. A golf tournament was held at The Farm. Current Georgia coach Mark Richt’s wife, Katharyn, was the featured speaker at a women’s luncheon at First Presbyterian Church.

Loran Smith, the Georgia radio network’s sideline reporter and freelance columnist, emceed the dinner banquet, which attracted a sellout crowd at the trade center. “If I had to talk about Danny, I would say that I never saw him flinch,” said Grusnick, who knew Dantzler for 20-plus years. “He had a deep, authentic faith and he remained solid in that faith through good times and the bad times. There was a glorious consistency about him, no matter the circumstances.”

Grusnick said he traveled extensively with Dantzler when he made appearances at high schools in the surrounding area to speak to FCA groups. Dantzler also spoke at various youth camps.
“Danny has been impacting the lives of young people for years and years,” Grusnick said. “And the one thing that stuck with me is him telling a lot of people he was going to be cured. And what he meant by that was he would be cured either on this side or the other side.”
Bill Chappell coached Dantzler at Dalton High School. “Danny was a very unique person,” Chappell said, “and he had the most positive attitude as long as I’ve known him, and that’s going back to his time at Dalton High. He was a special person and influenced an awful lot of people. He sure influenced me. I was always amazed with his attitude, his outlook on life and everything else.”

Chappell’s admiration for Dantzler only grew as his former player battled Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the famed New York Yankee first baseman who died of ALS in June 1941 at the age of 38.
“Since his illness he was just amazing,” Chappell said. “I can’t imagine putting myself in his situation. I can’t imagine me being like him, handling that the way he did. I don’t know many people who could be like Danny. It’s a terrible loss. We need a lot more Danny Dantzlers.”

Dantzler is survived by his wife, Jean, and children Leland, Watts and DeLancey. DeLancey Dantzler posted a message on her father’s blog Friday, saying he was in the hospital and “won’t be posting for a few days.” DeLancey wrote, her father’s sodium count dropped and doctors put him on an IV to get the number up. She said her dad wasn’t up to seeing anyone, but the family would “covet all of your prayers. Thank you all for your support.”
On Thursday, it was evident that Dantzler still had his wonderful sense of humor.
He wrote: I goofed. I took too much medication. I’ve been groggy all day. Forgive me. I can almost hear the trumpet. Danny D.”

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