Doner Designs - Warming Hearts with Cool Guitars
In 2008 my son Richard purchased his first electric guitar. A week later we returned to Guitar Center to buy an electric bass for me. Soon thereafter we started tinkering with upgrades of hardware and electronics. Jamming and guitar building have been great father-son activities for us ever since.
Past experience with building stereo equipment and RC models helped working on guitars to come somewhat naturally. Dozens of sources on the internet helped fill the holes in our knowledge base. By the fall of 2012, when Doner Designs was founded, we had built or significantly modified eight guitars and had made significant styling modifications to a handful others.
During 2012, as we considered the idea of building for charity auctions, our thoughts quickly turned to a family we have been close to for many years and who lost their daughter Jenna to cancer in 2011. We decided that the first two Doner Designs guitars would be dedicated to her.
A metallic blue leopard themed guitar was built with and for Jenna’s family, in her memory, using her favorite colors. The experience of building the guitar with Jenna’s family also served as a pilot for potentially offering guitar building workshops in the future.
The first “Fight Back” military guitar was built in memory and honor of Jenna’s brave fight against her illness. The fighter theme was important during her final days when friends and family visited and sent pictures of themselves in camo attire symbolizing their support of her battle. The Air Force Bass guitar was donated to the Chicago area Make-a-Wish Foundation for auction at their annual Wish Ball black-tie fundraiser in May of 2013. Make-a-Wish had previously granted Jenna’s wish to “swim with the dolphins” in Florida while she was undergoing treatment for her disease.
Our military style guitars have proven to be a good fit with organizations who support kids fighting serious illness. The Army Guitar was being donated to the Chicago area Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for auction at their Chefs Gala black-tie event in February of 2013. We feel a connection to the CF Foundation because of another family friend who has a child currently battling CF.
We build guitars for enjoyment, but also with the hope that we can help bring joy to others. Jenna’s memory is a part of the motive to help others. Another part comes from our Faith, which is an important part of our lives, though you won’t hear us talk about it much unless asked.
Thank you for your interest in Doner Designs!
Richard Doner, Danny Richards, Dave Richards and Steve Doner with the Jenna Guitar
Pictured below are Steve and Richard with the first two "Fight Back" guitars and the prototypes before them
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