Published 8:59 PM EDT Sep 27, 2018
For months, a Pennsylvania man diagnosed with terminal cancer has been holding regular yard sales to help pay for his own end-of-life expenses. Now, those costs aren't a worry any more thanks to the kindness of strangers.
David Dunkleberger is one of the organizers of a fundraising effort, which has raised tens-of-thousands of dollars. He told USA TODAY that he met the man in need — Willie Davis, 66 — in early August.
Dunkleberger and a friend attended one of Davis' yard sales, not knowing that the man was struggling with a terminal diagnosis. As they left, Davis told Dunkleberger that the sale was to raise money for a funeral.
“Who’s funeral?” Dunkleberger remembers asking.
“Mine,” Davis replied.
Dunkleberger — 27, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania — says he was haunted by the man's words. He soon decided to set up a crowd-funding campaign.
After local and national media attention this week, Dunkleberger's campaign has raised more than $30,000, which will be used to help meet Davis' final wishes. The campaign has repeatedly raised its goal as the donations kept coming in.
The campaign's GoFundMe page says Davis is a single man who hopes to be buried with his parents in Virginia. He is suffering from Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma.
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Davis, a Navy veteran according to local TV station WTAJ and The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown, has spoken to media about his reaction to the effort to help.
"I'm gonna miss life because there are people like that," Davis told WTAJ in reference to Dunkleberger's campaign.
When The Tribune-Democrat visited Davis, he had a number of belongings waiting to be sold. Among them: old newspapers, stacks of vinyl albums and an antique toy truck.
“I never imagined I’d be doing something like this. But I felt desperate,” Davis told The Tribune-Democrat. “A lot of this stuff is special to me ... but I don’t want to want to be a financial burden on the people I’ll leave behind. I’d rather do something about it.”
The crowdfunding page says that after Davis' passing, "a check will be distributed to the funeral home for 100% of the donations towards his funeral costs. If we have money left over, the remainder will go towards helping another veteran in need."