Man Spreads Joy by Treating Cancer Patients to Starbucks

Dan Dewey, courtesy Dan's Coffee Run/Facebook
Dan Dewey, courtesy Dan's Coffee Run/Facebook

For the last seven years, Dan Dewey, 67, has been brightening cancer patients' day in Royal Oak, Michigan by treating them to whatever they want from Starbucks. "To see somebody smile who had no intention of smiling that day," he tells Yahoo Shine, "It's just the best." He serves two hospitals, St. Joseph's Cancer Center and the Rose Cancer Center, and most recently, CARE House of Oakland County, a refuge for abused and neglected children. "Someone once asked me why I get them Starbucks-because its expensive-and I said 'Where should I go, the gas station?'" Dewey calls the patients and hospital staff he meets "the best people on Earth," and thinks they deserve anything they feel like ordering. "If they're having a bad day, I'll twist their arm and make them get one of those 'fou fou' drinks like a caramel frappe. There are no rules, have two drinks if you want."

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Dewey first got the idea of making free coffee runs when his father was being treated for Hodgkins lymphoma in 2002. "He had to sit in a big blue chair getting chemotherapy for a couple of hours each time," he says. "He was from the World War II generation, he didn't need anything, but I was going to need a coffee." He noted the long line of other patients getting chemo, and asked, "Who else wants something?" Five years later, when his father returned to what he calls St. Joe's for prostate cancer treatment, Dewey picked up the routine again, taking orders and buying drinks for any patients and staff who needed a pick-me-up. "After my father recovered from his second bout of cancer, I said, 'We had a lot of fun doing it,' and he said, 'Yeah, go ahead,' and those three words have been keeping me going for seven years." He now visits each location once a week, delivering about 90 orders at a cost of between 200 and 250 dollars.

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In the beginning, Dewey paid for the drinks out of his own pocket. He's retired and lives on a modest pension, and he says, "I can't afford to do it, but I've never had any money anyway, so why not just share what I do have?" In 2011, Valerie Edgington, who was then an employee at Dewey's regular Starbucks, started a Facebook Page to help him get donations and Dan's Coffee Run was officially born. He's received donations from families of patients as well as strangers. He says he's especially grateful to two school groups, one from California and another from a school for the visually impaired in Long Island, who kept his operation alive for the summer.

A couple of weeks ago, he says that funds started "running real thin," and he didn't think he could keep going past Novemeber 1. In seven years, he's missed only one delivery-on a Christmas Eve when his sister came to visit. "A few days ago, Valerie told me, 'You have to have faith,'" he says. Thanks to a post from a Reddit user, ProfEx, who encountered Dewey when his father was being treated for multiple myeloma (a blood cancer), the story of Dan's Coffee run is starting to go viral. "I want to thank Dan for the moments of happiness he brought to my parents we a simple cup of coffee during some of the hardest moments of my father's life," he wrote on the social news website on Thursday.

For more information about how to donate, you can visit the Dan's Coffee Run website or official Facebook page.

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