LOS ANGELES - Kevin Ford, 54, of Las Vegas, Nevada is a man of grace and humility. He’s been working as a cook and a cashier at the Burger King in the city’s McCarran International Airport for the past 27 years. Ford said he’s never missed a day of work in that time.
When he showed up to work earlier last week on the 27th anniversary of his employment, he didn’t make a big deal about it and not even his bosses were aware of the commemoration. But when he made a joke about the time he’s spent employed, management scrambled to get him a thank-you gift which consisted of a movie ticket, a Starbucks cup, some candy, chocolate and a backpack for it all to fit in.
Ford posted a video of him thanking his team and showing off his items, but he never imagined it would go viral.
The video has attracted tens of thousands of views and likes. Many users on social media expressed shock and dismay that, for Ford’s loyalty, he maybe should’ve been rewarded with something more substantial.
But being thankful person he is, Ford said he was simply honored to have received the gift and the nod.
"I was honored, it was nice and I loved it," Ford said. "One lady’s been there for 35 years, they didn’t get anything that I know of so I was happy."
Ford explained he even gave some of his gifts away to his coworkers in thanks for their gratitude.
But Ford’s daughter thought more needed to be done to show appreciation for his inspirational work ethic.
Unbeknownst to Ford, she had set up a a GoFundMe to help raise money as an extra way to celebrate her father’s career milestone.
Ford said the fund was originally aiming to raise something close to $200, but it has since raised more than $270,000 as of June 30.
"He originally began working at this job as a single father when he gain custody of me and my older sister 27 years ago. Then as our family grew and he remarried, he continue [sic] to work here because of the amazing health insurance that was provided through this employer because it was unionized," Ford’s daughter Seryna wrote on the fundraiser's page. "Which got all four of his daughters through high school and college with full healthcare coverage."
"My dad continues to work here, because though he does look young, he is coming up on retirement age and leaving would cost him his retirement," she continued. "In no way are we asking for money or is he expecting any money but if anyone feels like blessing him he would love to visit his grandchildren."
Some notable donors included actor David Spade, who gave $5,000 and even messaged Ford on Instagram wishing him the best of luck.
When asked what his daughter’s motivation was Ford said "I guess she just did it because she loves me."
Thinking only of others, Ford said the entire experience still feels new but the reality finally set in when he was flown out to New York to share his story on NBC’s "The Today Show," where he was reunited with his grandchildren which he says was a greater gift than money can buy.
"I haven't seen my grandkids in over four years, until the other day when ‘The Today Show’ flew me out to New York and I got to see them live on TV. I’ve been crying for all these days as it is and of course I’m crying live on TV again seeing my grandbabies."
Even with all the money he has received, Ford says he still has no plans to retire or take a day off, even for a vacation.
"You never know, it’s day to day but I haven’t thought of anything to do with that money except to visit my grandkids for a while and maybe put some up for their college, but I’m not even thinking about that," he added. "I’m just working."