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1975 Daniel 2022

Daniel Wheat

March 24, 1975 — October 30, 2022

Duluth

 

Daniel "Dan the Man" Ryan Wheat, 47, of Duluth, MN, passed away at home Sunday, October 30, 2022, surrounded by his family. Dan died due to complications of seizures associated with early-onset dementia.

Dan was born at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, on March 24, 1975, to Dave and Ginger Wheat. Dan was born with Down syndrome, and doctors told his parents he would never walk or talk and would probably die before age 10. He proved those doctors wrong with the love of his family and friends.

While growing up in San Diego, CA, Dan competed in various Special Olympic sports such as swimming, powerlifting, track and field, bowling, and basketball. On June 14, 1989, Dan was chosen to start the California Law Enforcement Torch Run aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Independence, the same aircraft carrier his father served on during the Vietnam War. Over the next ten days, the torch made its way to UCLA where the opening ceremony for the California State Special Olympics Summer Games was held.

The family moved to Duluth in the fall of 1989. Dan graduated from Duluth East High School in 1994. While at East, Dan was a member of the high school percussion section, where he enthusiastically played the bass drum and cymbals…sometimes off-beat.

In 1995 Dan represented Team Minnesota for Team USA at the International Special Olympic Games. During those games, he won a gold, silver, and bronze medal in powerlifting.

 After high school, Dan participated in the Choice Unlimited and Trillium programs for many years, where he enjoyed classes and activities around the Duluth community. He was employed by Cub Foods in Duluth for ten years and loved talking to customers, retrieving carts, and breaking down cardboard. Dan also loved volunteering at Primose, where he baked chocolate chip cookies for the "old people."

Dan loved traveling with his family to Italy, Mexico, Hawaii, and all over the United States in the family motorhome. Dan spent several winters at Hollywood Beach in Oxnard, CA, where he loved walking the beach every morning after breakfast.

In his free time, he enjoyed watching his favorite shows: Golden Girls, Murder She Wrote, Andy Griffith, Bewitched, I Love Lucy and Dukes of Hazzard. He also spent his time bowling, going to movies, walking with his mom on the Lake Walk and up to the lookout on Hawk Ridge. Going out to lunch was another favorite pastime, where servers knew he loved a lot of maraschino cherries in his soda. For many years Dan and his parents challenged one another to a daily step count, and every night at 9 pm, Dan brought up his clipboard to record their steps from their pedometers, where he relished in the fact that he always beat his dad. Dan and his family also played games of Sorry and Qwirkle nightly for many years. Dan also participated in many Best Buddies 20-mile bike ride challenges and 5 K's over the years.

Dan was a friend to everyone he met.

 "He made us all better people. One-of-a-kind"

  "He is the best human I know."

 "He changed all of our lives and made us better."

 "Danny was a blessing. He showed us how being kind and loving is truly a beautiful thing. We need more people like Danny in our world today."

 "He made us all better, caring people. Our lives are better to have had Dan a part of it."

 "Danny impacted so many people, and he didn't even know it."

 "Danny is an inspiration."

 “Danny was a treasure.”

 "He was a rock star."

Dan loved the world as it was, with no yearning for something different or more. He only knew to love unconditionally… It is hard for most people to understand how perfect the world could be if we saw things the way Danny saw them. Dan never competed for attention or recognition or for people to like him. He just rolled with the punches. And he never judged, just treated everyone the same. He saw people for who they were. You were friendly and respectful, or you weren't.

Dan is survived by his parents, Dave and Ginger Wheat; his "favorite" sister Erin (Wheat) McLaughlin (Walt) and his other "favorite" sister Elizabeth (Wheat) Schroeder (Matt); nieces Sage and Reese, nephew Evan; aunts Lesley MacLean, Paula Malikowski, Judy Mcharness (Jim), Toni Wheat, uncles Marty MacLean, and Kevin Malikowski and Rick Talbot 12 cousins who were each his "favorite": Ryan (Hillary), Morgan (Shelley), Griffin (Amy), Sunny (Jay), Matt (Danielle), Brandon, Collin, Chris, Bryan (Michelle), Laurie, Steve (Skylynn) and Mark. Along with his extraordinary friend, Stevi Madison, who also made a huge impact on his life.

Dan was the best thing that ever happened to our family, and we wouldn't have missed our time with him for the world. Every family should have a Danny. Save us a seat at Roy's Bar and Grill, Dan.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Daniel Wheat, please visit our flower store.

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