Dan Campbell notes the time of a 200-meter dash during an outdoor practice for the St. Dom’s indoor track team on Dec. 28, 2022 in Auburn.Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

“Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

“No Man is an Island”
By English poet John Donne 


Dan Campbell doesn’t have time for his cancer.

He is much too busy riding his bike and coaching high school track and field and cross country at St. Dominic Academy. He also is feeding the homeless in his community — and he is doing it out of his own pocket.

In early 2021, the longtime high school and college track, cross country and skiing coach was diagnosed with cancer. He was told it was incurable and that he had only months to live. However, fifteen months later, the cancer was gone.


With the hideous disease in remission but living under the constant threat of its return, Campbell, 71, is making time to reach out to his fellow man — which he has been doing most his life.

He has coached athletes at a variety of high schools and colleges and was a substance abuse counselor for people facing a crisis. Campbell also battled addiction, but his strong faith and desire to help his fellow man allowed him shake off the bonds of drug dependency.

The guy can’t help himself when it comes to someone who is in need. Between numerous doctor appointments and helping the old lady across the street, he made a decision to run a one-man operation to feed and sometimes find a room for the homeless.

“I am a lone wolf,” Campbell said. “Anything I ever started I never attached it to state funds, federal funds — any of that. I do have a board and we’ve met several times about something we were going to do, and I have reactivated that board. We do a non-profit number and the non-profit number is very active. 

“What we were going to do was start a house for teenagers and do it the right way. But it was going to be really expensive. We did our homework. You should have two to three years of money in the budget before you even start a program.” 

He said he is surrounded by bright people who also want to undertake this cause to help the homeless, but that project has yet to come to fruition.


“Is that in the back of mind? Yes,” he said. “However, until that (project) happens, I am a lone wolf.” 

To Campbell, the homeless are not invisible or to be ignored. He understands that there are underlying causes such as mental illness, drug addiction and job insecurity that leads to a life on the streets. He is also aware that millions of Americans are just one paycheck away from ending up on a curb.

He said the idea to feed the homeless came to him about two years ago when he was feeling “really sick” with cancer and confined to a bed. 

“I said, basically, ‘God, what do you want me to do,’” he said? “I said, ‘I am not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself.’ I remember going to the doctors and seeing all these homeless people. It illuminated every homeless person I saw. I said, ‘I got it. I hear you loud and clear.’

“So I just started hitting the streets — sitting down with them, talking to them, getting to know them. I know what their needs are, where they are coming from, what the story is. They need shelter; they need a place to go.” 

He hops in his car, sometimes with a friend, and approaches the homeless during the day or at night and offers to buy them food or rent a room for them. He said he works with some of the agencies helping the homeless. 


“But it doesn’t really solve the problem,” Campbell said.

He offers to take them to a grocery store, buy them lunch at McDonald’s or offers them Dunkin Donuts cards. 

Campbell also knows he does not have an Elon Musk bank account with unlimited funds. Each act of kindness means another withdrawal from his savings.

“All I know is that God has always provided, from way back when I turned my whole life over to him back in 1980-something,” Campbell said. “Things just happened, you know. I can’t say I’ve got a lot money because I don’t, but I don’t care. 

“American people have more than enough to help people if they want to. What’s $100, $150 bucks? Sometimes it costs more because I put them in hotels two or three nights.” 

He added that he uses his coaching and Uber driving money to pay for helping the homeless. He also has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise more money so he can help even more people who are in need.


“I go out five or six times a week,” Campbell said. “It’s not hard (finding them).” 

His genuine kindness comes at personal risk, but he believes the personal benefits of lending a helping hand outweigh any danger he may encounter. He has experienced anger, schizophrenia and the threat of violence just by the presence of his goodwill. 

“When (a guy) first met me, he wasn’t really sure because I offered to help him and his wife, and he had a gun and pulled it out,” Campbell said. “I said, ‘Hey, hey, I am here to help you. I don’t want anything from you.’ … He just looked at me and said, ‘Well, I just got to protect myself on the street.’ I said, ‘I’ve got it. I’ve got it.’ I said, ‘It’s all good.’” 

But those intense encounters have not deterred Campbell from putting himself out there to help the downtrodden. 

“I get joy. I get peace,” he said. “I really do. By enjoying peace, it resonates in my soul. I don’t do it for me, but that’s what I get out of it. I just look forward to it and talking to them.” 

Campbell’s dedication and devotion to his species can only come from guy who graduated from the school of hard knocks to become passionate humanitarian.

Sun Journal sports reporter Tony Blasi can be reached at tblasi@sunjournal.com.

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