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Lehigh Carbon Community College

By Suzy Alstrin

Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Dennis Conway found respite in putting his heart into helping others. For the past two decades, he has organized fundraisers, served on the board of a children’s advocacy center, coached lacrosse, worked with disabled and special education children, and guided many of his players to Reinhardt. However, he still yearns to enjoy some of the simple activities impacted by his disease.

Through myriad coincidences and connections, all of which tied to Reinhardt University, several strangers worked together to bring a smile to Conway’s face and the return of one of his independent pleasures. Although they had never met, once University Trustee Dr. Jeff Dobson learned of Conway’s love for cigars, and his inability to hold one, he contacted President Mark Roberts. with the vision of creating a wheelchair apparatus to hold a cigar and catch its ashes. Knowing some staff members who work with metal, Dr. Roberts introduced Dr. Dobson to Facilities Director Jeff Dale and maintenance technician Greg Monsour of National Management Resources.

Over several months, the team gathered measurements, test-fitted an apparatus, and perfected the design, all the while staying true to the meaning behind their gesture. On March 1, after Conway’s new device was installed, he said thankfully, “Oftentimes it’s the little things that make big things happen. I’ve gotten by with a little help from my friends and the good folks at Reinhardt.” Dr. Roberts responded, “I appreciate what you’ve done for the community, and I hope this gift will make your life just a little bit richer.”

Dale says they enjoyed seeing their hard work and its big payoff, “It allowed us to give something back to someone who has been such a big supporter of Reinhardt. Mr. Conway has such an incredible attitude and outlook on life and being able to give him the ability to continue enjoying one of life’s simple pleasures, smoking cigars while conversing with friends, was something we absolutely wanted to be a part of. We are pleased we were able to use our talents to bring joy to Mr. Conway and his wife, Leana.”

Dr. Dobson was touched by how everyone put their heart into this project and how his previously trademarked invention attached perfectly to the user end of the device – the Cigar Commandant’s Golden Inch ™ cigar holder. His Cigar Commandant regalia added more fun to the occasion as he inducted Conway into a self-proclaimed club called the League of Ordinary Gentlemen. Leana Conway beamed as she watched her husband enjoy his moment of independence. After all, it was her assignment as a magazine writer to interview Dr. Dobson that started the chain of events that led to this moment.