Gabriela Stepinska about Duane

I first met Duane over 4 years ago at a friend’s barbecue in Clayton, CA, where I was spending my summer. Despite him pulling magic tricks on me and trying me with sharp jokes and comments, I quickly began to like him. Right then, he struck me as a very unusual person, but I had no idea how exceptional he really was.

As I kept coming back to California each summer, we spent more time together. I would join him on his trips to cell sites and we could never get enough of talking.

One summer, two years ago, Duane took me along on a trip across the US to visit his friends and family.

Little did I know — this road trip was about to change my life.

Thanks to Randy, a friend of Duane’s, whom I met at a BMW Rally in Cedar Point, Arkansas, I went to Tanzania to serve a community hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, as a volunteer. For the first time in my life I was exposed to the crashingly sad situation of medical care in third world countries.

Here’s a link to my blog, which I ran while being in Tanzania: https://africaorbust2014.wordpress.com/

Upon my return to Poland, I decided to take action in order help people from St. Joseph Hospital. What at first was just a student project, became a non-profit SASA Foundation. Our aim is to obtain financial support for hospitals struggling due to a lack of medical supplies. Additionally, we seek to help medical students by expanding their knowledge and skills and providing them with real world experience, while they work as our ambassadors in supported hospitals.

We are on a roll; we’ve already sent one box of basic medical supplies with a young Polish doctor, who went to Tanzania for a four-month long mission. Currently, we’re working on sending a box of 200kg of medical equipment, as well as our ambassador, to St. Joseph Hospital.

With help from other people, persistence and hard-work I hope that we’ll be able to make a change in this small part of the world. As the president of the SASA Foundation, I want to fight for the rights of all the patients in the world to receive proper medical care. I’m starting with my dearest St. Joseph Hospital in Moshi, Tanzania.

All of this could not have happened if I did not know Duane.

Duane has taught me that all things are possible. We are the ones who are responsible for our own choices and for the course our life is going to take. Pretty much anything that we imagine becomes doable if we break it into pieces and follow our plan. The only limitation is the one we set ourselves. How is it possible to be a Ham Radio expert, have a pilot license, teach in Europe, visit almost all of the continents (including Antarctic) and then retire at the age of 33? Well, I guess only Duane knows how to do that, but he’s given us a great example that these doors are open for us too.

So, as I’ve been trying to follow his example, positive things have started happening in my life.

I’m currently a third-year medical student, pursuing an MD degree at the Medical University in Warsaw. After graduation I plan to apply for residency in the US and practice medicine as an orthopedic surgeon there.

Here’s a link to my crowdfunding campaign on Gofundme: https://www.gofundme.com/sasafoundation

Any positive change that I make will be thanks to Duane. Any patient who receives adequate and sufficient treatment from the SASA Foundation, will be an outcome of the influence that he has had and continues to have on me. Any person, whom I’ll help in the future as a doctor, would experience from me the caring, welcoming approach, which Duane has showed through his ways.

There’s a pure goodness in his incessant trials to connect with people around him. As he goes through his days, he can’t resist to occasionally strike up a conversation with a stranger. Duane not only notices attractive women ( 🙂 ), but he also pays attention to the people who are troubled, sad and lost (in every sense of the word). I have not seen one person who wouldn’t be cheered and lifted up after Duane approached her or him.

Above all, he is the connector who brings people together and gathers them around him.

Without a doubt, it is almost impossible to put into words and describe how Duane changed my life. Myself, and so many other people, who’ve met Duane, will agree with me, that the influence can only be seen through our actions. I believe that this is what Duane would like to see.

Duane, isn’t it wonderful to know that thousands, and maybe eventually even millions of people around the world have been directly or indirectly helped by you in some sense?

Every day, I thank for You, my dear friend, father and my soul-mate.

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