Internet Raises $50K for Veteran, 79, to Replace Mobility Scooter
[Oct 16, 2021: Kate Fowler]
A 79-year-old U.S Navy veteran in Minnesota has been flooded with donations to replace his broken mobility scooter after a TikTok video on his situation went viral.
Now, three days later, the total stands at $57,000 and his emotional reactions to the growing number have been racking up views in the millions, bringing a ray of positivity to the video platform.
Kenny's TikTok account, @patrotickenny, is run by friend Amanda, who he happened to meet while out and about on his scooter. The account often shares short videos of Kenny's life, titbits of wisdom and his friendship with best pal Jerry, who he is learning American Sign Language for, but a video shared on September 15 didn't ring the same. Instead, he shared the news that his trusted mobility scooter was "broken beyond repair."
The scooter is adorned with American flags and has even made it to the local newspaper for exactly that, being hard to miss in the local area. According to the videos, the motor had been burning out and shutting down every time it overheated, meaning Kenny would have to regularly stop and temporarily fix it, only for it to shut down 10 minutes later. As an 18-year-old model, there are no available spare parts to fix it for good.
As shown in the viral video, Kenny hadn't replied to any of his friend's texts over the past day, being too sad about the scooter. "I was in tears. Even though I didn't have this scooter for a long time, but I met some beautiful people on this scooter by traveling around the coffee shop and veterans park," he explained, pointing to his friends Amanda and Jerry as two of those people.
Kenny became choked up in the clip, explaining the freedom his scooter gave him. "I'm gonna try and get a fancy one, and decorate it up just like this one," he vowed.
Friend Amanda set up a GoFundMe page for Kenny, with a goal of raising $5,000 to replace the scooter, but TikTok did far more than just that.
"In 24 hours, people on TikTok, strangers who have never met you, but love you, donated $5,000 for a scooter for you," said Amanda behind the camera of the TikTok video. In the video, which now has over two million views, Kenny's jaw dropped, before he immediately began to cry.
"That is so nice, that is the nicest gift I've had all my life, and then some," he said, before reassuring that: "Aside from my kids, y'know."
Kenny went on to ring his son, Mike and tell him about the good deed from his TikTok viewers: "There are so many wonderful people," he said.
But the donations didn't stop there, and continue to roll in, making the total at the time of publication $57,000. Yesterday, they shared his reaction to discovering the updated total. After guessing $10,000, he was informed that the GoFundMe had reached $45,000 and responded with sheer shock, unable to get his words out. "That's like winning the lottery," he said.
"Ever since I started going back to church, God has watched over me and he's giving me all kinds of angels taking care of me," he added. "That's what this country needs, and that's why I meet all these nice people," he said after listing some of the heartwarming comments he's received in the past days online.
With the ball continuing to roll on Kenny's GoFundMe, Amanda has shared what the extra money will be spent on, promising to remain "transparent" with it online: "Two fancy scooters (one that is portable, one that is heavy duty), paying off his debt, cover some upcoming medical bills, helping him get better accessible furniture, helping with a move to a new home and costs associated with that, grocery store and coffee shop gift cards, and some really awesome, fun stuff too!"
Viewers on TikTok have rushed to compliment Kenny and wish him well, often drawing in comparisons to their own parents and grandparents.
But what does Kenny want more than anything? To meet Oprah, he says, adding that he watches her on The View every morning. With his ever-growing flow of TikTok donations, there's no need for her to "you get a car, everybody gets a car" here, though.
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