Why strangers raised $450,000 to help a dependable Burger King worker buy his first home

Kevin Ford has spent nearly three decades working at the Harry Reid International Airport.

The Las Vegas man works for HMSHost, which manages food and beverage options for travelers. He started in 1995 and has worked at different airport eateries such as Cinnabon, a snack bar called Frankly Gourmet and currently, Burger King. 

The 56-year-old has spent half his life working at Burger King and never missed a day for 27 years straight. Still, after putting in so much time, he was still struggling. 

He worked some days with back pain and although people would tell him to go home, he couldn’t. He had two things on his mind: bills and taking care of his two daughters he got custody of in the mid 1990s.

He’d work on his days off from the airport as well. He’d make deliveries for 12 to 20 hours to pay the rest of his bills, put gas in his car and eat.

“I was barely making rent here,” Ford told USA TODAY Wednesday evening. 

Kevin Ford at his job, Burger King at Harry Reid International Airport in Nevada.

Realizing how much hard work he’d put in at the airport and Burger King, he documented his 27-year feat in a TikTok video in early 2022. Months later in June 2022, the video went viral and viewers wanted to help him out. 

His daughter made a GoFundMe for him, which has raised nearly $450,000, allowing him to pay off debts and buy a home on Dec. 13, about 15 minutes outside of Las Vegas.

Recognition came after Vegas man’s 27th anniversary at airport restaurant

Ford said previously, managers would get employees goodies like a keychain, a prize or a gift card to celebrate work anniversaries, but those were cut out during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While at work in early 2022, he mentioned that he didn’t get anything for his anniversary.

“The manager at the time, who I love, she went and got me a piece of cake and said ‘Happy Anniversary,’” he recalled. “A few days after that, they brought me a goodie bag and presented it to me. I was happy to get that because there's people who have worked there for 30 and 35 years and they didn't get anything.”

He said the company likes employees to share moments like that on social media, so he posted a TikTok video. A popular social media user named Natasha reached out to the family and his daughter Seryna worked with her to create and share a GoFundMe.

And although they started the GoFundMe in part to allow the public to help Ford, there was another special reason for the fundraiser. Ford wanted to visit his grandchildren and couldn’t afford a plane ticket from Vegas to Texas. He ended up with enough to buy plane tickets and his own home.

Kevin Ford with his granddaughters Charlotte May (left) and Claralyn May (right).

Burger King employee is ‘always working,’ daughter recalls

Ford raised his two daughters with his second wife and eventually, he had two more daughters with her. 

“We had a child, and then we had another child,” he said. “At first, yeah, I was a single father and I was raising my kids, doing what I had to do.”

His daughter Seryna has watched her father work hard her entire life. She was about three years old when he got custody of her and her older sister, she told USA TODAY Wednesday evening.

“The main lesson that I always remember about my childhood and my upbringing is to always keep pushing,” Seryna told USA TODAY. “My whole childhood was just him … always at work.”

He’s great, she said. He did everything he could to provide for them and gave them anything they wanted. She also added that her stepmother, his wife at the time, was great and did a lot for them as well.

Kevin Ford with his daughters Seryna Ford (left) and Xierra Ford (right).

His daughter is part of the reason he wanted to buy a home for himself. She bought a house not too long ago in Texas. She inspired him to invest in something he can pass down or benefit from in some way.

Ford now has a fiancée in the Philippines and he is excited to show the house to her.

“We're working on the visa and stuff, trying to get her over here,” he said. “I like the house. It’s very nice. There's nobody to the right of me. There's only people to the left.”

Generous donations saved Burger King employee

As of Wednesday, Ford has only missed one day of work, but for good reason. He appeared on The Today Show.

In addition to buying his new home, Ford has put money aside for retirement, as well as money for his children. He paid off a car and bought another one, too.

Kevin Ford at Burger King in Nevada. He has worked there for 27 years and prior to 2023, never missed a day. The only day he did miss was for an interview with a news outlet, he said.

Ford said the donations have saved him and changed his life forever.

“They truly saved my life,” he said. 

“They've caught me up in life. I believe everybody should have savings for their children and their future. They made that dream come true for me. The next time somebody says there's no hope for humanity or there isn't love out there, show them my story.”

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