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Archive for Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Loss of both legs doesn’t stop longtime Douglas County man from becoming a volunteer

April 9, 2014

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Bill Mason has been volunteering with the Bonner Springs Police Department for 12 years, though his record of service extends much further than that, including 10 years as a volunteer firefighter. He continues to volunteer even after losing both legs below the knee due to diabetes.

Bill Mason has been volunteering with the Bonner Springs Police Department for 12 years, though his record of service extends much further than that, including 10 years as a volunteer firefighter. He continues to volunteer even after losing both legs below the knee due to diabetes.

— The example of service in Bill Mason’s family was set by his grandfather, who was a Bonner Springs police officer.

It’s part of why Mason has made it a point, for almost his entire life, to volunteer in his community in some way. For the past 12 years, he has been a volunteer with the Bonner Springs Police Department, and even losing both of his legs to diabetes — the right in November 2010, and the left in November 2013 — hasn’t kept him from volunteering in any way he can.

“I think that everybody should at least give back to the community that they live in,” he says. “I think it’s great to do that; I just feel better when I volunteer and give back.”

Mason was one of several city volunteers recognized by the Bonner Springs City Council last week in preparation for this week's National Volunteer Week, which runs through Sunday. But he likely is known for much more than his volunteer work with the police department.

Born and raised in Bonner, Mason also lived in Douglas County for about 21 years. Thanks to his love of camping, he volunteered at Clinton and Perry State Parks and with the Perry Corps of Engineers.

After returning to Bonner Springs, Mason was a volunteer firefighter from 1989-99 with Bonner Springs Fire Department. During that time, he also worked on a Habitat for Humanity home and a Christmas in October project.

Mason said what prompted him to become a volunteer firefighter was his job at Standard Motor Products, where he oversaw safety and security, dealing with OSHA and workmen’s compensation cases.

But he certainly felt a great kinship with his fellow firefighters — he started a collection of firefighter-related memorabilia that he said is now too large to count, and when he lost his legs, he had his prosthetics covered with firefighter images.

He decided to begin volunteering with the police department when he saw an advertisement in the newspaper for the Volunteers in Police Services program.

When he first started, Mason said he did more activities — taking out the speed monitoring sign and even helping with traffic control for events like Marble Crazy. Now he assist mostly with phone calls and paperwork, volunteering on Mondays and Fridays as well as helping out with Municipal Court on the second fourth Wednesday of the month. He said he averages between 70 and 80 volunteer hours a month.

“If they need me any more, they’ll let me know,” he says.

He said his volunteer work has helped him gain a new appreciation for everything that the police department has to do.

“They can sometimes look like the bad guy, but it’s because they have to deal with bad situations,” he said.

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