One SMART Rider Changed the Game

Photo via Donald Gene Dotzauer, Facebook.

Key West is more than Florida’s far-flung party outpost. It was also the final destination for thousands of riders, volunteers, and organizers of the SMART Ride. While it was always welcoming, it wasn’t always viewed as a place for impactful fundraising.

That changed in 2015, when Donald Gene Dotzauer joined team Key West Mile Markers. His enthusiasm inspired not only his team, but the entire island community. With a population of only about 27,000, many believed there was no more money to be had.

Indeed, many fundraisers are there, and even the most supportive community only has so many dollars to spend. Dotzauer wasn’t having it.

“It’s the most generous place in the world to live,” he said at the final check presentation. “It’s the most giving community. It really is.”

Dotzauer is reluctant to take credit. Ever the leader, he gives credit to his team and Key West citizens. But he’s much more than that.

KWMM raised more than $1.4 million over its lifetime, a considerable chunk of the ride’s $16.4 million 20 ride total. Their Facebook page is loaded with fundraisers, training pictures, encouragement, and a running total of their fundraising efforts.

Those results are easily measured. What can’t be measured is his emotional and spiritual impact. KWMM held fundraisers all year, engaging the community and the island’s visitors.

SMART Ride Founder Glen Weinzimer said Dotzauer and his efforts stood out for years.

“Every organization needs a tipping point, the person that rallies people together.”

At one point or another, a benefitting agency held the title of top fundraiser. Then Dotzauer and the KWMM stepped up.

“Don stepped into a community on the smallest island where they said they can’t get any more money out of this rock,” Weinzimer said. “He shows up and doesn’t take no for an answer. He was determined that they would squeeze every dollar they could. He has successfully done that.”

When it was announced that the 20th ride would be the last, Dotzauer and the KWMM again refused to take no for an answer. They filed articles of incorporation to continue their fundraising efforts.

At the check presentation, he was delighted at the announcement that a ride, in one form or another, would continue. The SMART Ride community is very tight. Dotzauer and his team will be there no matter what form it takes.


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