Retired Kansas farmer who donated mask to Cuomo gets degree

A retired Kansas farmer who sent a single N95 mask to Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proven that you reap what you sow – as he was given an honorary degree from his state.

In March, Dennis Ruhnke, 72, sent one of five extra masks he had to Cuomo after hearing about shortages and looked up the governor’s address online.

“I didn’t know who else to send it to. His address was on the internet. So I chose him,” he said.

In his handwritten missive, Ruhnke wrote that the mask was a leftover from his farming days.

“It has never been used. If you could, could you please give this mask to a nurse or a doctor in your city,” he wrote Cuomo, who read it during his daily briefing.

“You want to talk about a snapshot of humanity. … How beautiful is that? How selfless is that? How giving is that?” the governor said.

Ruhnke called it his “15 minutes of fame,” hoping that the attention would go away soon.

No such luck, though.

The Sunflower State again turned the spotlight on Ruhnke, who Gov. Laura Kelly said was two credits shy of earning his degree in 1971 when his dad died and he left school to look after his mom and their farm.

“This afternoon I had the pleasure of joining Kansas State University President Richard Myers to confer a bachelor’s degree upon Dennis Ruhnke of Troy, Kansas,” Kelly wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

“Dennis’ kindness and lifelong career in agriculture make him more than qualified to receive a degree,” she added.

After Ruhnke donated the solitary mask to the Empire State, Kelly called to thank him for being such an exceptional ambassador for Kansas, according to CNN.



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