Wednesday, June 9, 2010


The following is a true story that happened to my wife Autumn a week ago. I find it inspiring. I hope you do to.

Autumn works as a waitress at the Shakopee Applebee’s. As a waitress, you meet all kinds of people. Most customers are forgotten once they walk out the door. A few are memorable for reasons you’d like to forget, but some customers can touch your heart. On a busy Saturday night, Autumn waited on a thin man who wore a graying beard and a gentle smile.

Towards the end of the meal, Autumn asked if the man had saved any room for dessert, the man replied, “Oh I don’t need dessert, I make the best cheesecakes and I have some waiting for me at home.”

“Really!? Said Autumn, “I love cheesecake. I’d like to taste some of your work!”

“When is your next shift? Because I will to stop by and give you one of my famous cheesecakes.”

Not knowing this man, Autumn felt a little uneasy, but since she wasn’t giving him her home address she accepted his generous offer and told him she worked Tuesday at 5:30. And then not giving it another thought, forgot about the man, figuring that she wouldn’t see him again.

But then at 5:30 on Tuesday, while walking into work she saw the kind man in the parking lot – with the most delicious looking cheesecake she had ever seen. The cheesecake looked like a picture right out of a Martha Stewart magazine, with perfect graham cracker crust, and smooth creamy cheesecake. Along with the cheesecake were several containers of blueberries, cherries, and his homemade caramel sauce so the cute waitress could pick her favorite topping.

“Do you have a few minutes? “ The man said.

“Sure, I’m a couple of minutes early for work– Let’s go in and sit down.” Autumn said, her mouth watering over the cheesecake.

“My name is Dave, I bake about 100 cheesecakes a year and give them away to different people. Many times people are skeptical with me, why would this guy give me a free cake, is it poisioned? What’s the catch?

He continued, “You see, a couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and wasn’t’ given very long to live. I’m living on borrowed time now and making the most of it. I don’t have a family, or much money, but I love to see people smile and my cheesecake seems to do the trick. Like I said, I make the best cheesecake.”

Autumn told me this story, and immediately I wanted to share it with everyone I know, because Dave is giving away his “art”. He knows that when you have a gift, when you share that gift with others you undoubtedly make a difference in their life.

And that feels good.

Later on in the week, I felt compelled to share Dave’s story with the faculty and staff at Le Sueur-Henderson schools. You see at LSH we are launching a new initiative. We want the staff and teachers to work on their strengths, on their art, so they can be better teachers and ultimately we have students who discover their strengths so they can achieve more than ever before.

As part of a presentation I told Dave’s story in the high school auditorium Monday morning. His story is an example of sharing your art, and the joy it can bring to others, I hoped Dave’s story would inspire our schools to do great work.

I had asked Dave if he would share his art with all of the faculty and staff. He agreed. At the conclusion of the presentation each teacher, administrator, and secretary had a piece of Dave’s cheesecake.

Dave spent all weekend baking cheesecakes and topping. This may not seem like a big deal, but we found out after picking up the cheesecakes from him that he did so while feeling very weak and ill. He may not have very long to live.

He did this for complete strangers. Because, as Dave said, “My work is not yet done.”

Don’t’ wait to share your art. Go, make something happen! 


  1. Had dinner with Dave the cheesecake guy last week. The man is a walking story. At a young age he became an alcoholic drinking a 12 pack of beer and a pint of whiskey a day. He stopped drinking at age 33. He has been sober for 25 years. When asked what caused him to stop drinking, his reply was,

    "When I was 33 and drinking heavily, I drove my car into a train and then went home and passed out. 8 hours later I woke up, went back to check on my car, and then turned myself in. They then gave me a breathilizer and I blew a .2 (legal limit today is .08) bare in mind I had stopped drinking at least for 10 hours."

    He also said while he was drinking he had survived 13 major car accidents. He shouldn't be here today.

    I would say someone was watching over Dave, protecting him. His name isn't being called upstairs just yet, so he is living for others as much as possible.

  2. Wow! What an amazing story!