May 2000

John Wollenschlanger

by Joseph H. RADDER

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John Wollenschlaeger was born in a time when there wasn’t much hope for cerebral palsy patients. But hope is exactly what filled John’s heart and today, at 73 years young, he continues to defy the odds.

John hasn’t let his lifetime confinement in a wheelchair deter him from his deep love of sports. He never thought he’d have the opportunity to bowl. In fact, the first time he tried it, John only knocked down a total of 12 pins for the entire game. John kept at it though and eventually started a handicapped bowling league that still meets every other Saturday during the season to play.

A son of German immigrants, John grew up on the East Side of Buffalo. Over the years John got to know Fr. Baker, and John realized that his purpose in life was to contribute something of himself to society. John is grateful for the ability to express himself through words and actions, which many cerebral palsy patients are not able to do. As a TAP (Telephone Assurance Program) volunteer, John calls local homebound elderly to provide them with companionship through conversation.

A pinochle player, John enjoys travelling to Las Vegas. He even met and spoke with Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna White during one visit.

John’s wit and sense of humor continue to be an inspiration to all those who know him.

Joseph H. Radder is a freelance writer.


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