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Wisconsin to Wrigley in a wheelchair for charity

Dennis Schulze, shown in Arlington Heights Wednesday, is headed from Wisconsin to Wrigley Field in his wheelchair to raise money for five charities. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Dennis Schulze may have a Rocky Balboa moment Friday.

He won’t be leading the charge up the steps to an art museum in Philadelphia, but he plans to be hobbling on a prosthetic leg to Wrigley Field.

And he hopes people join him.

His journey began in a wheelchair on Dec. 16 in Beloit, Wisconsin.

With his arms and one foot, he began to push and kick nearly 100 miles leading to Wrigley’s doorstep. He plans to put on his prosthetic leg to walk the final blocks to the ballpark’s marquee.

Dennis Schulze hopes his wheelchair journey from Wisconsin to Wrigley will inspire people to donate to several charities close to his heart, including the American Cancer Society and Alzheimer's Association. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Dennis Schulze hopes his wheelchair journey from Wisconsin to Wrigley will inspire people to donate to several charities close to his heart, including the American Cancer Society and Alzheimer’s Association. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

The journey, he hopes, will inspire people to donate to several charities close to his heart, including the American Cancer Society and Alzheimer’s Association.

The idea for his journey came to him minutes after the Cubs won the World Series.

Four years before Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo caught that final out, Schulze found himself pinned behind the wheel of his semi after an accident on the Borman Expressway, not far from Chicago’s southern border.

“I was in no pain. I remember telling them I don’t want to die. And I remember screaming out to the people all around me ‘Get me out! Get me out!'” he recalled.

Rescue workers gave him a local anesthetic and amputated part of his leg in order to pull Schulze from the wreckage.

Several weeks later, as he recovered, Alzheimer’s disease claimed the life of his father, Richard. His mother, Betty, died a few months later from lung cancer.

These things crossed his mind when he set out in subzero weather, when heavy snow forced him to take backroads and when a small town cop — driving at two mph with lights flashing — gave him an escort for a few hours before offering him a salute and a wave.

When the sidewalk ended and he was forced to use the road’s shoulder, he was thankful that his friend, Joan Sohn, was there to trail behind him in her Jeep, hazard lights flashing.

Schulze, who has four kids, five grandkids and has been on disability since the accident, initially wanted to go it alone. But Sohn insisted she be allowed to serve as a one-woman pit crew.

In-between biting off mileage in eight mile chunks, the pair crashed in hotels, a church basement and Sohn’s car.

“This stuff about there’s no good people in the world, that’s a crock,” Schulze said Wednesday morning during a brief pause along the Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights.

“A woman recognized me this morning at a bakery because I was on the news and she just gave me a hug. That’s what this whole thing is about,” he said.

“So if anyone wants to join me Friday morning when I put on my prosthetic leg and walk the last few blocks to Wrigley, I’d love that.”

A representative from the Cubs organization was not immediately available Wednesday to say if anyone from the ball club would be there to greet Schulze.

“If I get there and there’s nobody there, well, I’m still at Wrigley Field,” he said with a smile.

Schulze is also raising money for Wounded Warriors, March of Dimes and an organization that helps abused children. Donations can be made at his GoFundMe page.

And to see where and when Schulze will embark on his journey’s last leg, check for updates on his Facebook page.