This 80-year-old sign maker’s work is stopping his Central Florida neighbors in their tracks

Dave Sanders’ uplifting messages have Apopka neighborhood talking

APOPKA, Fla. – As Central Florida was in the first stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Dave Sanders thought his neighbors could use a pick-me-up.

“I wanted to be a blessing to people,” Sanders said from his home in the Wekiva Glen subdivision in Apopka.

Sanders, 80, was sitting at his dining-room table with rulers, dry erase markers and a large whiteboard spread out in front of him.

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“I’m not an artist,” he said with a smile while putting the finishing touches on his latest yard sign.

“Tough times never last. Tough people do,” Sanders said, reading what he just wrote.

Signs like this one have made Sanders a bit of a neighborhood celebrity.

Every Monday morning, Sanders places one of his inspirational signs by the road in front of his house. Then he watches for the reaction.

“People drive by and stop. They say, ‘I like your sign,’” Sanders said proudly.

Bonnie Bisignano lives across the street.

“In the beginning of quarantine in February, he put this really sweet sign out and it was on cardboard. It was just really touching.” Bisignano said. “And then he put another one out and it kind of started wobbling a little bit.”

From the beginning, the neighborhood took notice.

[SUBMIT YOUR NOMINEE: Know someone making a difference in their community? Nominate them to be a News 6′s Getting Results Award winner]

“It was really making an impact on people and they were slowing down and people on their walks were taking pictures,” Bisignano said.

Sanders has since upgraded to a whiteboard but still brings it in at night and during rain storms.

Sanders said he got the idea when he remembered doing something similar years ago.

“Up north one year we had a lot of snow. And I put a sign in my driveway. It said, ‘Think spring,’” Sanders said. “People really reacted to it. So that was the first sign I made.”

Sanders said he finds inspiration in books, T-shirt slogans and people have even recommended sayings to him.

Lily Messier, 17, said one of his signs, which read, “There has to be rain before you can have a rainbow,” was especially reassuring to her. She saw it shortly after losing her grandmother.

“I had seen them for a couple of months and I thought they were super cute but after my grandmother passed away I was, like, ‘Oh, wow.’ Something so little can mean so much to you. That’s what’s amazing.”

To show her appreciation, Messier and her sister brought Sanders flowers and a card.

“I’m a firm believer that if someone does something nice for you, that you return that favor and you show kindness to others. And that’s what I wanted to do for him.

Bonnie Bisignano felt the same way. She nominated Sanders for the News 6 Getting Results Award.

“At a time when nobody really knew what was going on in the world, it was just nice to have some positive energy out there,” Bisignano said. “He’s a special man and he deserves to have some recognition.”


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