Seventy-year-old Ken Wayne Broskey has given about 20 rides per day to about 140 people per week for the past five months— but a recent 12-minute ride ended up changing the Livonia, Mich., man’s life in a way he never expected.
It was then that Broskey met 22-year-old Roland Gainer, who learned his driver was battling elevated stage 4 cancer, and that he had picked up the Uber job to try to pay off the house he shares with his daughter, a waitress, and grandchildren. In early April, doctors gave Broskey two to 10 weeks to live, and they have urged him to consider hospice instead of working.
“I’m very comfortable with dying,” Broskey said in a YouTube video detailing his battle with oropharyngeal cancer with lung mestases. “It’s just like I told Roland: If I could be in my deathbed knowing that my daughter is taken care of, it’d make dying much easier.”
When Gainer, a student at Washtenaw Community College, learned why Broskey picked up the Uber job, he “just felt compelled to help,” he said in the video. Gainer said Broskey’s story reminded him of his own mother’s battle with cancer when he was in high school.
Gainer’s mother ended up beating cancer, but the Ann Arbor man wanted to do more for his new friend: He wanted to change Broskey’s fate as much as he could.
Gainer set up a Go Fund Me account to raise $90,000 to pay off Broskey’s house, and within seven days, more than 3,700 people raised nearly $102,340. Gainer, whose effort has since gained traction on the national stage, also caught Uber's attention after Detroit News covered the fundraiser. The company sent an email to riders and drivers, vowing to donate $1 to the fund for every person who used the code UberPartnerKen in the promotion box for their Uber ride.
"We were really struck by this unlikely friendship and this warrior of a man who was fighting for his family, serving his community, all the while battling stage 4 cancer. It was inspiring," Uber spokeswoman Brooke Anderson told FoxNews.com.
Within 24 hours of Uber beginning their supplementary donation campaign Tuesday, April 14, Ken's Go Fund Me account increased from $2,000 to about $17,000, Anderson said.
Now that Gainer has met his goal, he has decided to turn away further donations.
“We will be able to save Ken's house for his daughter and grandchildren,” Roland wrote on the Go Fund Me page. “Because we have achieved our goal, and there is such great need in all of our communities, we are declining further donations to allow other causes to be supported.”
“My unlikely friendship with Ken has defied age, race, geographic, and economic boundaries and is bound by the common good of mankind,” Gainer wrote in the main description of the online fundraiser page. “But, it won’t defy time. Ken is dying. He is a proud man whose story or one similar is mirrored many times. But, it is up to each of us to move when we are moved, and make a difference when and how we can.”
Melinda Carstensen contributed to this report.