Daniel Davison was born on the South side of Chicago into alarge extended family, many of whom were criminals – jewelry thieves and bank robbers connected with organized crime. The youngest of five boys, Daniel says, “I was subjected to abuse in every form imaginable.” Not everything in Daniel’s life was ugly, however: “music was abundant,” and his lifelong love of music began in childhood. He began playing the clarinet at age six or seven, the bass guitar at nine or ten, and the keyboards around twelve or thirteen. Even as a child, Daniel was “no stranger to the drug scene.” He recalls one occasion, when his older brothers and cousins, prior to taking eleven-year-old Daniel with them to a ball game, ripped out the lining of his jacket and “stuffed it with their dope and beer, because they knew a child would not be checked at the gate.” By thirteen, Daniel was smoking marijuana. It was the eighties, and middle school kids were beginning to experiment with drugs. By nineteen, as well as using drugs, Daniel was selling “everything except opiates to raise the money to buy grass and musical instruments.”
Even though Daniel was progressing as a musician, playingbass guitar for talented Freddy and Jimmy Watson, he was heavily involved in cocaine. In his own words, “I was a drugged out drug dealer musician.” One Friday evening in 1995, a drugged twenty-eight-year-old Daniel slipped on a frozen pond. At dawn he came to and managed to crawl to the edge of the pond where, Daniel says, “I lay down, gave up and waited to die.” With the wind chill putting the temperature at forty degrees below freezing, by 10: 30 a.m. Saturday morning, when he was found and was rushed to hospital, Daniel was not expected to live. “The frostbite was so severe, that my eyes had frozen in their sockets, my ears were black, I had frostbite on all of my fingers and toes, and large parts of my legs were black and swollen and had blown up like balloons.”
At Loyola Medical Center, Daniel was sent from the ER to the Burns Unit. In six days his vision had returned and his ears “came back,” but after fourteen days, gangrene had set in and was spreading. Doctors amputated Daniel’s right foot, his left leg below theknee, and all of his fingers and thumbs.
Daniel entered rehabilitation on April 10, 1995, where he was helped with psychiatric therapy as well as physical therapy. By June 8, he was released, but Daniel did not want to return to his mother’s home after living independently since age eighteen: “There was no way on earth I wanted to go back to my past life.” The medical staff connected him with North West University where he began working as a “guinea pig” to try new types of prostheses. Daniel was asked to demonstrate how he used his prosthetic hands and feet to other amputees. Pretty soon it became evident to all who met Daniel that he should be talking about his life, not just his prostheses. He was inspiring and motivating his audiences with his courage and his achievements.
While working with NWU, Daniel took up disabled competitive sailing. In 1997, his team ranked 11th in the nation in the Freedom 20 class. While sailing in Florida, he met folks from Naples and decided to move down to SW Florida. “At first it was really rough. I had no real moneyand was forced to accept help from Vincent St. Paul and meals on wheels,” says Daniel.
Since coming to Naples, Daniel Davison is a founder of SHARE, the Society for Handicapped Achievement, Rehabilitation and Empowerment, that was incorporated and 501C3 approved in 1998; and he launched a handicapped sailing program in 2000. He has brought home four sailing trophies, raced in World Cups, and competed in the Paralympics. He won the Trophy for Most Advanced Rider from Naples Equestrian Challenge in December, 1999; and participated in the NAMI Walk (National Alliance for Mental Illness), a three-mile walk, in 2003, 2004 and 2005. Daniel completed his first sky dive from 13,000 feet in July, 2002!
Although his home base has been Naples for the past twelve years, Daniel Davison frequently travels all around the country speaking at numerous high schools, colleges, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals. He wows his audiences with his personality and talents. A born entertainer, Daniel still plays five instruments: He lays the bass guitar flat and plays on one string; he tapes drumsticks to his hands for the drums, and puts pencils in his hooks to play piano. Ifasked, Daniel will remove his prostheses and show audiences his bare arms and legs. “You didn’t know you were coming to see a male stripper, did you?” he asks them. But it is the story of Daniel’s life that holds adults and children spell-bound. Daniel wants to make young people and children, especially, aware of the dire consequences of bad choices, in particular when it comes to drugs. No schools, no matter where, are immune to this danger. Davison intends to continue to accept engagements to speak whenever asked. He has now begun the process of putting together a book that will bring his message to even more people.
His story is included, along with chapters by Anthony Robbins, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and other well-known motivational and inspirational authors, in the critically acclaimed book, Wake Up, Live the Life you Love – Living in Abundance.