For Ken Kisner, you can mix business and friendship for a good cause. The President of INX Digital International has known Matt Chaney, a friend of his in the Bay area community of Lafayette, California, for 12 years. In 2001, Matt was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Since then, events like this Saturday’s 8th annual Napa Valley Ride & Walk To Defeat ALS, sponsored by the Golden West chapter of the ALS Association, have taken on new meaning.
Last year’s benefit attracted more than 600 cyclists and walkers who participated and raised over $330,000. This year, the event is being supported by ALS members from the Greater Sacramento, Orange County and Greater San Diego chapters. For several years, Kisner has relied on industry relationships to combine with his efforts by donating services to produce the various banners and rigid signs that can be found at the start and finishing areas. When a local company couldn’t commit to help print this year’s 156 signs for free, Kisner called in a favor. Help was answered 2,400 miles away by Decal Impressions in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“Bryan Vielhauer, the owner of Decal Impressions, is a terrific guy like my friend Matt Chaney. He’s a friend who jumped at the chance to help and get involved in what we do for the ALS Association,” said Kisner, whose company is a leading global manufacturer of inkjet inks for digital printers.
Kisner called Vielhauer last week because he was in need of a printer with an experienced team and a fast, high quality flatbed printer to get the job done. That’s when Decal Impressions did what they do best.
“We had a short timeframe and three days turnaround to do it. Most of the signs were 24 inches by 18 inches and all of them were four-color process,” Vielhauer said. “Our team buckled down to get this project done for a great cause.”
The signs are just one part of a special event. Something a friend can do for another friend in need.
“Matt is a great friend who, despite his illness, tries to do as many normal things possible,” says Kisner. “When I first met him, he was this robust kind of guy who was very active and liked to play sports. The disease hit him pretty hard and he can no longer use his arms, but Matt is a pretty creative guy. We have a common group of friends who visit Sonoma once a year and one of the things we do is play bocce ball. Matt came up with this modified shoe to play and now he beats all of us.”
ALS is a progressive neuro degenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain to cause muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body. There is no known cause or cure. But that won’t stop Matt Chaney from living life to the fullest.
“I began playing golf with Ken four or five years ago and we share a quiet passion for creating gadgets. With the loss of my muscle and strength in my upper body, I was no longer able to swing a golf club but I had modified my putter and made a belly wedge so I could chip and putt,” Chaney recalled.
“One time Ken and a couple of other neighbors and I played in a local golf tournament. Ken surprised me with five pairs of Croc (shoe) knockoffs and five golf club heads sans shafts with a bolt welded to the backside of each club head. He had assembled each golf shoe by securing the bolt to the toe of each Croc. The idea was fantastic although the fairway boots didn’t have quite enough support for an assertive kick. The heads came off and went farther than the ball, but I have since modified Ken’s idea and still enjoy the game. By the way, we won that tournament.”