Kansas honors retired farmer who sent coronavirus N95 mask to Cuomo

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The retired Kansas farmer who drew national praise last month after he mailed one of his few remaining N95 masks to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, asking that it be donated to a coronavirus health care worker, received honors in his home state Tuesday.

Dennis Ruhnke of Troy was two credits away from graduating with a degree in agriculture in 1971 when his father died and he withdrew from school to take care of his mother and his family farm, according to Gov. Laura Kelly.

“Dennis’ kindness and lifelong career in agriculture make him more than qualified to receive a degree,” Kelly wrote on social media.

So the governor and Kansas State University President Richard Myers gave Ruhnke a bachelor’s degree in a special ceremony Tuesday.

Ruhnke in late March mailed the mask to Cuomo along with a handwritten letter that the New York governor later shared publicly and described as “humanity at its best.”

KANSAS FARMER MAILS NY GOV. COUMO N95 CORONAVIRUS MASK FOR HEALTH CARE WORKER: 'SNAPSHOT OF HUMANITY'

New York, the state hardest struck by the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., has seen more than 320,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 25,000 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon.

“I'm a retired farmer hunkered down in N.E. [northeast] Kansas with my wife, who has but one lung,” Ruhnke wrote in his letter to Cuomo. “We are in our 70s, and frankly, I'm afraid for her."

“Enclosed find a solitary N95 mask leftover from my farming days,” the letter continued. “It has never been used. If you could, would you please give this mask to a nurse or doctor in your city.”

In an April press conference, Cuomo referenced the letter and thanked Ruhnke and his wife for their generosity.

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“You have five masks, what do you do?” Cuomo said at the time. “Do you keep all five? Do you hide the five masks and keep them for yourselves and others? No, you send one mask to New York to help a nurse or doctor... How selfless is that?”