Fausnaugh fueled by Tanks of Thanks

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Shelly Birkelo
Sunday, April 20, 2014

JANESVILLE—Four years ago, Steve Fausnaugh broke his back in an industrial accident.

After recovering, the 50-year-old Janesville man was determined to find a way to give back to nonprofit organizations and others in his community.

Fausnaugh got involved with the Janesville Bowmen's Club, the Rock County Snowmobile Alliance and the Snow Chiefs snowmobile club even though he lives in constant pain.

His reward: Fausnaugh recently was recognized for his volunteer efforts by Cenex's Tanks of Thanks. The program encourages people to nominate others for free fuel as a way to recognize and reward their contributions to the community.

Each month, 100 nominees are drawn at random to receive a Tanks of Thanks gift card worth $50, redeemable at any Cenex-branded retail location. Since the program launched in 2012, it has recognized more than 10,000 people and awarded $280,000 in free fuel nationwide.

Fausnaugh said being recognized is “great” and thanks God every day when he can get out of bed, stand up and not have to be in a wheelchair.

“I feel I've been given a gift to do something other than sit around," he said. "I try to volunteer and do what I can to help out these clubs in the community. I'm just trying to give back."

And he does. Fausnaugh estimated he averages 110 hours a month over eight months through his snowmobile involvement. He contacts owners of land where trails pass through, installs and removes trail signs and operates the grooming machine on a 60-mile section of the trails.

“It makes me feel really good when people take the time to thank us,” he said.

Fausnaugh devotes another 660-plus hours a year to the Janesville Bowmen's Club, where he is kitchen coordinator, serves on the board of directors, helps with the children's league, 3D tournaments, beginning archery classes, vending machines and keeps the wood stove burning all winter.

“I just enjoy working with kids. It makes me feel good to know I actually helped them, to see the smile on their faces and make them forget about their problems for a while,” said Fausnaugh, who doesn't even own a bow.

“I've never shot over there,” he said of the bowmen's club. Still, he visit the club up to a half-dozen times a day to keep the wood stove fire burning when it gets really cold.

“I enjoy every minute of it,” he said.

So does Fausnaugh's dog, which makes the 3-mile trip with his owner from his nearby home.

Bowmen club board member Jennifer Kraus described Fausnaugh as “extremely outgoing ... definitely a caring, people person.”

“He helps us with whatever we need, is always willing to take the initiative to do things himself and just makes sure the club continues to run," she added. "We don't know what we'd do without him."

“He is highly critical to us. His dedication to community service is top-notch. He's just a caring, compassionate human being and the kids just adore him.”

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