Dan Dewey has never experienced chemotherapy himself. But after watching his late father Edgar go through it, he has a pretty good idea of what it’s like. He calls it “that awful place.”
“My joke is I wake up broke every day and deal with it; they wake up with (cancer) every day and deal with it,” he said. “It doesn’t leave anybody untouched.”
A longtime resident of Orion Township’s Gingellville community, in 2007 Dewey found a way to bring a smile to chemotherapy patients’ faces. One day, while accompanying his dad to treatment at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, his dad asked him to get him a cup of coffee.
“I said, ‘I got his wallet; who else wants coffee?’” Dan Dewey said. Ever since, even after his father’s death from cancer in 2008, he has continued to bring coffee and other hot drinks from Starbucks to chemotherapy patients. He takes orders, buys and delivers.
Now known as the “coffee angel,” Dewey was recently honored by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners for his efforts. He received a proclamation from commission Chairman Michael Gingell (R-Orion Township).
Gingell said he’s seen Dewey, who is a runner, on the roads in the Gingellville area but hadn’t heard about his mission of mercy until a fellow commissioner brought it to his attention.
“It just compelled me to reach out and recognize him,” Gingell said. He said he likes to honor people who are bettering their community.
“They’re not doing it for attention,” Gingell said. “I think we should give them some attention.”
When Dewey showed up at the Nov. 28 commission meeting, he was wearing a sweatshirt with the words “Dan’s Coffee Run” on the back and a pair of shorts. He said it’s the outfit he wears, year round, on his Thursday coffee rounds. The sweatshirt was designed by a nurse.
Dewey said he’s been touched by the reaction he’s received from patients, staff and the public. After a story about him ran on local television, he showed up at his regular Starbucks “and here’s these people standing outside waiting for me,” he said. One man gave him $100 and said, “Spend this any way you want.”
“It’s so amazing. It’s so simple but it catches everyone who hears of it,” he said. People send money, thank-you notes and Starbucks gift cards. Now he has a Website, danscoffeerun.net and has expanded his runs to include the Rose Cancer Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
He has been adopted by Starbucks’ Everylove campaign (starbucks.com/everylove). The Website calls him “one of the most inspiring people we’ve ever met.”
Laura Williams heard about Dewey because a friend of hers works at a Starbucks Dewey frequents.
“It’s not just about the coffee; it inspires people,” she said. “I don’t think he understands how much it promotes random acts of kindness. … It makes people want to do good.”
Dewey can be contacted at PO Box 563, Keego Harbor MI, 48320.