Inspirational spirit: Local chiropractor inspires community support during COVID-19 closures

The sparks that started the flame ... Dr. Dustin Rounds and receptionist Casey Moen of Rounds Chiropractic in Waukon got the ball rolling on a community support movement that has helped small businesses, an area church and now local high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic. An initial donation effort from Rounds Chiropractic to help purchase carry-out meals turned into a community support effort that went beyond their expectations. Submitted photo.

by Lissa Blake

When the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic saw the government shutting down “non-essential” businesses in March, local chiropractor Dustin Rounds started brainstorming ways he could help them in the Waukon community. Although chiropractic is considered an “essential” service and his doors remained opened, Rounds said the closure of local businesses really got to him.

“I started thinking about how it would be if my own business was shut down. I don’t sleep well anyway, because I worry. And when I worry, I brainstorm,” said Rounds.

Rounds said he came up with the idea to donate a certain amount of $5 coupons to different restaurants.

“I thought maybe it would be a challenge to other businesses that were open to help support those who weren’t. I thought it might incentivize people to help these establishments,” said Rounds.

Rounds said he and receptionist Casey Moen started posting things on his clinic’s Facebook page.

“The first week we donated $100 for $5 off coupons at Green Valley Getaway. The next week we picked two other restaurants to help,” he said.

What happened next, Rounds said, was surprising.

“People started stopping in to our office and donating money to what we were doing,” he said.

Although that’s not how Rounds and Moen intended the donations to work originally, they were happy to spearhead the cause.

“That’s kind of how this whole thing got going. People started donating money and it just kept coming,” he said.

Other restaurants that benefited from the coupon drive included Yen Hing Dragon, West Side Café, the bowling alley, Fiesta Vallarta, Waukon City Club and The Town Theater in Waukon, and the Sportsman’s Club in Rossville. Other initiatives included offering coupons to hair stylists and other places that have been shut down.

“We also had a community meal that benefited Old East Paint Creek Church. We helped them raise $1,200, because they had to cancel their fundraising dinner,” said Rounds.

In addition, through generous donations of more than $5,000, Rounds’ initiative has donated meals to workers at Hartig Drug, Fareway, Quillin’s, Innovative Ag Services, the nursing homes and Gundersen Clinic.

“We also fed the Allamakee Community School staff during teacher appreciation week through a donation from Kristin and Mark Byrnes,” he said.

An extensive list of others that donated money for the effort as it grew included Kious Kountry, KolGol, Ross Lier Logging, John Sweeney of Sweeney Real Estate, Kurth Plumbing & Heating, McCormick Motorz, Lonestar Truck Parts, Kruger Lawn and Landscaping, Tonia Guchshenkov, Amber Dirksen, Benjegerdes Machine, Winnmakee Repair, Andy Moore of Farm Bureau Financial, Becky Robinson, Ginny Schlitter, Brad and Vicki Bloxham, Rose Magner, Barb Byrnes and Jim Johnson, Brooke Wirth and Sisters, Margaret Troendle, Travis and Breanne Bernau, Systems Equipment, Welch Inc., Gibbs Dairy, Jane Tepesch, Victory Antiques and Collectibles, Kevin and Cindy Johnson, Randy and Carrie Brock, along with many other anonymous donations.

Rounds said in addition to trying to help businesses and individuals affected by the shut down, he really thought it was important to do something for local high school seniors. He shares the disappointment many of them likely feel in not getting to experience their senior Prom.

“The last few months of high school are always the funnest and I just feel bad because of the life experiences these kids are missing,” he said. “It isn’t just a dance, it’s your senior Prom. It is a life experience that they’re not allowed to have right now.”

Last weekend, Rounds was again instrumental in organizing a community Summer Prom fundraiser that raised $4,797, but again said it would not have been possible without the generosity of many who donated to the effort, including food in addition to money. Questionnaires will be sent to the junior and senior students of Waukon High School and if there is enough interest, a Summer Prom could take place at the end of July (see sidebar story in colored box on Page 1A of this week’s edition).

When asked what would happen with the funds raised if the students did not decide to participate in a Summer Prom, Moen said it would be donated to the senior class, with hopes they would “pay it forward” somehow.

Rounds said although he has somehow become the face of this supportive community movement, it is the many businesses and volunteers who have donated their time and money that have made it successful.

“When people ask why we are doing this, I tell them because someone’s telling us we can’t. It has frustrated me that someone is making a choice for these businesses. I just felt bad for all these guys… There’s all of this COVID stuff and these business owners are taking the brunt of it,” he said.

“If you call them up and see what they’re going through, it breaks your heart. These people have worked their whole lives… now they’re told they can’t go to work… people who can’t get benefits… everyone is scared… the last thing they care about is getting sick, they just want to be able to work.”

Rounds added he hopes an end is in sight and the closures will be short-lived. As of the printing of this article, most businesses have been allowed to open at a limited capacity and with mitigation measures in place for customers and staff.

“This has made me realize we really take our freedoms for granted,” he said.

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