In 1980, a little boy came to visit Mr. Rogers on an episode of his show. The 10-year-old named Jeff Erlanger cruised up to front porch of Mr. Rogers’ TV home and had a conversation with the host about what it’s like to live in a wheelchair. Any fan of Mr. Rogers is sure to remember seeing this episode, and they will be sad to learn that this little boy has passed away at the age of 36 in Madison, Wisconsin.

Erlanger had been in a coma for several weeks after choking on some food before he died on Sunday. He had been a quadriplegic since a young boy after undergoing surgery for a spinal tumor. After his appearance on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he remained friends with the host for many years. In 1999, he appeared as a surprise guest at a Television Academy Hall of Fame induction ceremony to honor Fred Rogers.

Jeffrey Clay Erlanger, 36, was in a coma for several weeks after choking on food. In May 2003, he returned to Pittsburgh to honor Rogers yet again at his memorial service at Heinz hall after his passing.

As an adult, Erlanger served on several city committees including the Commission on People with Disabilities and the Economic Development Commission. His main goal was to get developers to consider the needs of people with disabilities while making plans to build houses. These accommodations included wide doorways, the elimination of steps at the entrance, and bathrooms on the first floor. These requests were made complicated by politics and state laws.

Erlanger’s funeral was held in Madison, Wisconsin. He is survived by his parents, Pam and Howard Erlanger and his sister Lisa Erlanger who lives in Seattle. The family encourages fans of Erlanger to give donations to The Olin Sang Ruby Summer Camp, 555 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, IL 60062, in his memory through the Jeffrey Erlanger Memorial Fund. This fund will be used to enhance the camp experience of children with special needs.


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