#UberPartnerKen movement starts in Metro Detroit

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

After Uber Detroit called on riders to join a campaign to help a cancer-stricken driver pay off his mortgage, a few dozen well wishers, including one who arrived on a skateboard, stopped at a fundraiser at Wayne State University on Wednesday.

The car service company said Tuesday it would donate $1 to a GoFundMe campaign for each rider before Monday who enters the code "UberPartnerKen" into its app. The company also encouraged Twitter users to tweet using #UberPartnerKen.

The announcement came after Uber heard about Livonia resident Ken Broskey, who has stage-four cancer and is working as an Uber driver to help pay off his mortgage before he dies.

"His doctors have told him it's time to head to hospice," the company said in a statement. "Instead, he continues to work, driving as many Uber rides as he can, to earn enough so his daughter and two grandchildren can continue to live in his house after he is gone."

Uber already has contributed $5,000.

Meanwhile, Wednesday, the Social Club Grooming Co. barbershop at WSU asked clients to get $100 haircuts.

"All that money is going to Ken (Broskey)," owner Sebastian Jackson said.

Jackson had hoped for a larger crowd for the special $100 haircuts. The chairs were still empty with an hour to go Wednesday night, but the thought counted even if the GoFundMe total projected on a wall rose by only a few hundred dollars.

Beans & Cornbread and American Coney Island had donated food, and the mood remained upbeat.

"I can't believe you gave up your barbershop tonight," Broskey told Jackson.

"It's nothing, man," said Jackson, 28.

Broskey was featured Tuesday in a Detroit News column about the 69-year-old man's fast friendship with Roland Gainer, a 22-year-old community college student who started the GoFundMe campaign to help Broskey after a 12-minute ride in his car. "We don't expect much from an Uber experience, other than good service and a smooth ride, but this trip was different," Gainer said on the GoFundMe page.

The campaign raised more than $18,569 by Wednesday night. The goal is $95,000 to ensure Broskey's daughter, a single mother and waitress, can keep the home after her father dies.

"(Broskey) knows that things will be hard without him," Gainer said. "And like any good father or grandfather, he worries about and wants to protect and provide for his family," Gainer said.


Staff Writer Neal Rubin contributed.