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Steve Dunlap

Steve Dunlap, of Mason City, discusses his health and how his love of music, specifically, his love of singing karaoke, has helped him cope with the challenges of Type 2 Diabetes while at Jitters Coffee Bar in Mason City on Tuesday.

MASON CITY | Steve Dunlap has found strength in music.

Karaoke music, that is.

“That perks me up to get me through all of this, the music and having fun and being with perks good friends,” he said in a sit-down interview with the Globe Gazette earlier this week at a local coffee shop.

Dunlap, a longtime Mason City resident, has Type 2 diabetes, which led to the amputation of his left leg and early retirement as a security guard at Southbridge Mall within the past decade.

Two months ago, he learned his kidneys are “malfunctioning and disintegrating” because of it.

In February, he’ll begin the process for a kidney transplant in Des Moines.

“It takes a lot out of you,” Dunlap said about his kidneys. “It makes me feel tired and rundown.”

But not too tired or rundown to keep him from his love of music.

As a child, he was strumming a guitar to the Everly Brothers in front of the TV, and today, he can be found singing music from country legends, like Merle Haggard, George Strait and Randy Travis, at North Iowa restaurants and bars as “Cowboy Steve.”

Over the past 25 years, Dunlap has sang karaoke at VFW Post 733 in Mason City, Surf District Rock ‘n’ Roll Grill in Clear Lake, Mat’s Place in Garner, The Poodle Lounge in Mason City, Kozy Korner Bar in Mason City and Rumorz Bar & Grill in Clear Lake and many others.

“I have great fun with it,” he said.

In fact, Dunlap proposed to his wife, Roxanne, at the Moose Lodge during karaoke night more than a decade ago.

After he asked her to marry him — and she said, “yes,” — he sang, “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait.

Most recently, Dunlap and his wife, Roxanne, and their friends have made it a weekly tradition to eat and sing karaoke at Gunny’s Smokehouse Bar & Grill, a barbecue joint, in Ventura Saturdays.

“It’s a good time,” said Bryan Groves, owner of Gunny’s. “We all enjoy it.”

Groves said when he heard about Dunlap’s health, he decided to do a fundraiser to help with his expenses.

Patrons can donate a portion of their meal or separately to a fund for Dunlap on Saturdays at the restaurant.

“We haven’t raised very much, but it’s something,” Groves said.

Dunlap said he “very much appreciates” Groves’ willingness to do a fundraiser for him.

“He’s an all-around great guy,” he said.

Gunny’s, 104 N. Weimer St., is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and noon to 11 p.m. Sundays. It’s closed Monday.

Karaoke takes place Saturdays at 9 p.m., which is when the restaurant’s kitchen closes, and people can expect to see Dunlap for as long as he’s able.

“The power of music is very healing for me,” he said.

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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