Dying Uber driver's dream comes true

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — A campaign to help a cancer-stricken Uber driver pay off his mortgage succeeded over the weekend with more than $100,000 raised in less than one week.

Livonia resident Ken Broskey, who has cancer, 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.

The campaign raised $102,338 in six days before it was closed. The goal was $95,000 to ensure Broskey's daughter, a single mother and waitress, can keep their home after her father dies.

"I'm very happy; it's extremely exciting," Broskey said Monday. "Right now, my No. 1 goal is to pay off my mortgage."

The funds are enough to cover Broskey's mortgage and the GoFundMe fee, according to a message posted to the site. Gainer said he plans to put the money in Broskey's name and accompany him to Wells Fargo to make the payment.

"I'm just amazed, excited, happy, blessed and grateful. I'm running through a bunch of emotions," Gainer said Monday. "I want to see his face when he pays off the mortgage. It's going to be exciting and I can only imagine how he feels."

Uber Detroit on Tuesday joined the fledgling cause, saying it would donate $1 to the campaign for each rider who enters the code "UberPartnerKen" into its app. The nationwide promotion ends Monday at midnight and all proceeds in excess of what is needed to pay off the mortgage will go toward a college fund for Broskey's grandchildren, Uber spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.

"We spoke with Ken this weekend and he was so grateful for all the support, and he did mention that something he's also been thinking about is his grandchildren's education," Anderson said. "Ken just wants to make sure his grandkids will be able to go to college."

The car service already contributed $5,000 to the GoFundMe campaign and encouraged Twitter users to tweet using #UberPartnerKen. More than 2 million people used the hashtag through late Monday morning, Anderson said.

Broksey retired this weekend from driving with Uber in order to spend more time with family, Anderson said.

"Even while facing life's most difficult challenges, Ken has quietly and faithfully served his community and his family," Anderson said. "He's inspired all of us and Uber is proud to have partnered with him."

A few dozen well-wishers also raised a couple hundred dollars Wednesday at a Wayne State University barber shop fundraiser.

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

Beans & Cornbread and American Coney Island donated food to the event, where the mood was upbeat.

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

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


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Staff Writer Neal Rubin contributed.