children of all ages. :I may not look it, but I am 24 years
old. (Well, Dave K., my alter ego, is 511/2, but I'm
Dave K. was born on Christmas Day. (Good
time of year for a future
clown to be
born, don't you think?) He was
born with a birth defect known as spina bifida (to learn more
about this birth defect, you canclick
muchof his childhood in Shriners' Hospital in
Salt Lake City Utah.
Dave loved it when the Shrine
Clowns came to visit.They always brightened
a dreary hospital stay (which in those day, averaged anywhere from
three months to a year), laughed away pain and freely gave away smiles
and joy. Dave K. grew up wanting to be a
clown as well,
to take his turn passing on some of those smiles and happiness,
and erasing for at least a moment, any pain he discovered in someone else's
body or heart.
For years the dream remained in the background, as Dave K. never
quite knew how one goes about becoming a
clown. In college, he roomed with a couple of
"lipstick clowns" (people pretending
clowns at birthday parties;
in it for the money only, not the true purpose of bringing joy to those around
them, especially children). Of course, that was no help; Dave wanted
to be a real
clown. After college, Dave even got to know
clowns personally, but none of them took seriously
his burning desire to pass on the love that the Shrine
clowns had passed on to him. The dream
seemed hopeless. Then one day, he saw an ad in a local newspaper for
parade clown volunteers.
Dave K. enthusiastically answered the ad, and
. . .
Clownwas born July 19,1980,
just in time just in time to celebrate Salt Lake City Utah's
Days of '47 (also known as Pioneer
Days). These pictures show what Wheeler looked like back then.
(By the way,
was born big; that's me as a new
clown on the right, holding
newborn Chuckleberry, and on the left holding the late Queen
Kellheil, my canine companion of nearly a
The rest, as they say, is history and happiness. Wheeler began to grow
and improve as I performed at numerous birthday and other parties and activities.
I was privileged to associate with other
clowns, including the local Shrine
clowns who adopted me as an honorary peer.
(One has to be a Mason to be a Shriner and a Shriner to actually be
So far, I'm
neither.) The highlight of those
days was when the Shrine
clowns invited me, as their adopted son so to
speak, to be part of group
clownskits performed locally at the Shrine
Wheeler's association with the Shrine
clownsdidn't end there. In 2003, Dave
K.'s old childhood dream became true, as I began weekly visits at the Shriners'
Hospital where he was incarcerated so often as a child. (Well,
the building is different and the current administrator actually likes
kids, but the location is the same). Health problems have recently
kept me from doing this for a while now, but I can't wait to get back.
I have worked hard over the years
to perfect my profession, attended several
clownology classes and
clown conventions, and have
won regional awards for my balloon sculptures (always a big hit wherever
I go) and for skits (visit my
awards page for more info).
I have performed at hospitals (children's and adult's), nursing
homes, women's shelters, store grand openings and specials, shopping shows
and holiday events, company parties and picnics, and of course, at numerous
children's birthday parties.
People are sometimes shocked at the sight of a
clown without legs and in
a wheelchair, but I can almost always put them very quickly at ease, and
children relate well to a
clown they can see at eye
We (that is, Dave K. and I) have
a beautiful wife and two great kids (now 23 and 19), and we
love them more than life itself. I am always happiest when performing
with my family. From left to right, that's Chuckleberry, Baby Bubbles, Ballooney
and Wheeler in whiteface. The rest of the family have all moved on to other
other interests besides
clowning now, but I just can't seem to get out
of all this greasepaint! (Just kidding, I'm a
I love it!).
That's me today on the right, and a few of my other faces below
1st and Scout
are two of my auguste / character
faces). As you can see, My appearance changes
from time to time. But two things will never change. I love children
of all ages and I love being a
Spina bifida is an extremely common
birth defect where one or more vertebras have not closed fully. Depending
on the location of the vertebra involved, the resulting effects can be
unnoticeable or quite severe. In Wheeler's case, the condition resulted in
paraplegia (loss of movement and sensation below the waist and, later, scoliosis
(spine curvature). Wheeler is now also a double amputee.