Every now and again a story comes along that shows how much goodness there truly is in the world.
On June 20, subreddit r/ABoringDystopia posted a video of a Burger King employee named Kevin Ford, 54, who says he received a gift from management after 27 years on the job. In the video, which was originally posted on his Instagram on May 25, Ford delves into the items he received from HMSHost, the company from which Burger King hires, which included a Starbucks reusable tumbler, a bag of Reese’s candy, pens and two rolls of Lifesavers, amongst other items. Additionally, managers at the Las Vegas Burger King where Ford works gave him a slice of chocolate cake to celebrate the milestone. While Ford remained appreciative in the video, expressing his gratitude, the response online was a touch more critical.
“Did they really only give him ONE movie ticket tho??” one person wrote on the TikTok version of the video.
“And he’s so humble and kind about it. This pisses me off so much. He deserves so much more,” another person commented on Reddit.
Many of the other responses from commenters pointed out that Ford’s gift reality didn’t quite match up with expectations, which may be why Ford’s daughter decided to step in to honor her fathers dedication in his food service job.
“My name is Seryna. The man in that video is my father. He has worked at his job for 27 years and yes he has never missed a day of work,” Seryna Ford wrote in a GoFundMe she set up for her father. "He originally began working at this job as a single father when he gained custody of me and my older sister 27 years ago. Then as our family grew and he remarried, he continue to work here because of the amazing health insurance That was provided through this employer because it was unionized. 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. 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.”
People around the internet heard her and were moved by Ford’s story and the response to her unassuming request exceeded anything the Ford family could have dreamed of, having its goal shattered twice — and it's still climbing. In just over a week, the GoFundMe has received over $250,000.
“I’ve been crying for about two days now. It’s just incredible,” said Kevin Ford in an interview with TODAY Food. “I just go to work and try to have fun and laugh and make other people’s day good. It’s like I’ve been in a dream for almost two days now. It’s just so beautiful and awesome. It really is.”
With over 8,000 donations, Ford also feels the love from each and every donor that decided to celebrate his 27 years of service. “For all those years, you feel unappreciated, but you get up just like everybody else. You do your job, and for somebody to show this appreciation is just overwhelming,” he said.
One of those donors was actor and comedian David Spade, who gave a whopping $5,000 to the GoFundMe, becoming its top donor. Ford said he contacted Spade via Instagram to give his thanks and received a classic comedic response.
“I said, ‘Hey, maybe now I could take a day off’ and he sent back ‘Wait till you’re 30,’” Ford said.
A Burger King spokesperson issued the following statement to TODAY:
“The Burger King brand and its many franchisees nationwide are committed to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of the thousands of people serving across a wide range of roles. Following review with this location’s franchisee, we’ve learned that this video depicts a Team Member in receipt of a peer-to-peer reward in recognition of a short-term positive performance/experience.”
Burger King also added that it offers team members an employee recognition program, which includes the recognition of tenure milestones and monetary awards. For its part, HMSHost, the food service company Ford works for Burger King through, is actually the party responsible for the viral gift.
"The goodie bag Mr. Ford received was something we call a Shout Out, which is recognition and appreciation from his peers," an HMSHost spokesperson told TODAY in a statement Tuesday. "HMSHost is pleased that its award-winning 'Shout Out' employee recognition program was used to celebrate one of our long-tenured and dedicated associates, Kevin Ford, for his teamwork and great attitude. These 'Shout Outs' reflect our core values and dedication to guest service and offer our employees a way to celebrate each other every day. The 'Shout Out' program differs from HMSHost’s company service anniversary program, which celebrates employee tenure milestones.
"This recognition of Mr. Ford by another employee captures the essence of our culture of appreciation, caring and inclusion and reflects the best of our company — our people. Mr. Ford is a valued associate and member of an honored group of employees that have worked for us for many years."
As to what Ford plans to do with the money, he said he hasn’t thought too deeply about it yet, but he’s eager to pay off bills and visit his daughter Seryna and his grandchildren, two girls who are six and eight. Throughout this once-in-a-lifetime experience, Ford said he’s thankful for this community of people who thought to offer him a little love through their comments and the donation drive. Ford also expressed his deep appreciation for his daughter, who got the ball rolling on this outpouring of support.
“I can’t repay her, you know? Because she is why I do everything — her and my other daughters and now my grandkids,” Ford said. “I really can’t put into words how much I love my family.”
EDITOR'S NOTE (June 28, 2022, 8:06 a.m. ET): This article has been updated to include a statement from HMSHost, as well as an amended GoFundMe statement from Seryna Ford. The donation amount has also been updated.