Dennis Ruhnke, a retired Kansas farmer, is being recognized for a selfless gesture that deeply touched New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Ruhnke sent one of his own N95 masks to Governor Cuomo in hopes that he would pass it on to someone working on the frontlines to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Ruhnke has now been honored with a much-anticipated college degree, according to People.
Even though Ruhnke’s wife is ill and he is aging and vulnerable to COVID-19 himself, he gave away one of his few N95 masks to help someone else. Along with the mask, the farmer included a thoughtful letter that Governor Cuomo later read aloud during his daily briefing. The farmer’s kind act has now been rewarded.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly and Kansas State University President Richard Myers provided Ruhnke with a bachelor’s degree this past week even though it has been many years since he attended the school. The farmer was only two credits away from achieving a degree in agriculture in 1971. However, his father passed away and Ruhnke dropped out of school to care for his mother. Now, he finally has the degree he used to dream about.
“Dennis’ kindness and lifelong career in agriculture make him more than qualified to receive a degree,” Governor Kelly said.
At his graduation ceremony, Ruhnke’s speech was humble. He expressed his gratitude for the degree and encouraged those listening to do what they can to help others during these challenging times. He took the time to also pay tribute to those working on the frontlines that have sacrificed their own lives while serving others.
“I’ve waited half a century to receive my college degree and had pretty much written off any chance of getting it. It would not have happened had I not mailed in that one N95 mask to Governor Cuomo for a first responder. I guess you call it karma. Many of those who wrote to me to thank me asked me how they could help. Just pay it forward as much as you can afford to do so to honor all of those who lost their lives to the C-19 virus.”
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Governor Cuomo became emotional while reading Ruhnke’s letter last month. He spoke of the selfless gesture, noting that the farmer easily could have kept the mask for himself. Instead, he thought of others. Governor Cuomo hopes this generous act will inspire others to treat one another with kindness during these challenging times.