len's masthead




londoner editor pic





There’s a big hearted guy who lives in the Mount Hope Center for long-term care in London. When he drives down the hospital corridor he smiles at everyone he meets. He is the jovial court jester who continually warms the hearts of staff and patients at St Joseph’s Health Care Center.

Let me introduce you to Donny Habel a giant of a man-three feet, nine inches tall. He has endured over 69 fractures to his body in the last 74 years. He has lived on his own since the age of nine. Hospitals, nuns, nurses, doctors have sort of adopted Donny.

He’s street smart but never had the opportunity to attend school. He can’t read or write but is very good at math and business. He has enjoyed working for the London Free Press as a paper carrier for the past 44 years selling his newspapers at St Joseph’s Hospital.

If you have been a patient at the hospital, he was a welcome daily visitor delivering the news of the day to your room. You could see him coming with his handle bar mustache gliding down the hall in his scooter. Lights-a-flashing, country music wafting from his dual speakers.

His rear licence plate attests that he is a SWINGER. A ready smile, whistle and a “how are your doing,” he greets everyone he meets.

Donny enjoys meeting and cheering up the patients and customers. No rush; he has the whole morning to deliver his 100 papers, six days a week. Up at 5 am. to dress, clean his room, eat some breakfast and off he scoots to pick up his bundles of the London Free Press.

Our initial interview took place in the coffee shop at Mount Hope where many people dropped bye to say hi. One of the nursing staff told me that everyone knew Donny. She could always count on him in a pinch when needed. He is not only a resident; he’s part of a close-knit family.
As a life long member of the London North Lion’s Club he has played a key role in fund-raising for various charities.

Donny and his friend, Cathy, who has Cerebral Palsy, have been inseparable for the past 10 years. Her mom spoke warmly of Donny, ‘as a miracle worker who takes such good care of her daughter. Festivals in the park, lunch at MacDonald’s, wheelchair floor hockey along with volunteering, has made life more enjoyable for her daughter.’

Every Friday night when the London Knights are playing at the John Labatt Center the twosome are picked up by Para Transit at 5 pm. and taken to the Covent Gardens Markets to enjoy a delicious dinner of Lasagna and Cannelloni. After dinning they make their way over to the hockey rink where they have had seasons tickets for the past six years to cheer for their London Knights.

It’s not often that we meet the likes of the little big man. With all of life’s travails he is truly a happy man:“no anger, regrets or complaints of what might have been.”

Donny future plans are to live as long as he wants and never want as long as he lives.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com