Jeep enthusiasts rally around Niagara County family
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NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. --- Ken Offerbeck had three loves in his life; His wife April, his daughter Mackenzie and his Jeep.
"He had fun," April Offerbeck said. "He loved Jeeping and he had so much fun working on it, doing new things to it, adding to it," she said.
Offerbeck loved his Jeep so much, when he wasn't with it, he was talking about it. He moderated an online forum about Jeeps.
"They trade parts," his wife said. "They help each other fix things. They buy new things. They tell each other problems about whatever Jeep they have."
But one day he shocked his online friends when he started a thread titled 'I don't have good news to share.' Offerbeck told them he had found a lump on his thigh. He had cancer.
"It just started to spread until it spread everywhere," Offerbeck said.
The doctors gave him two years to live. He fought for 27 months.
"As long as he could use his hands he was still on the computer moderating the forum," Offerback said.
With cancer eating away at his body, Ken Offerbeck didn't have much to smile about.
But last December, just ten days before he died, members of the forum decided they wanted to meet their friend in person.
"When they met, that day for Ken, he just loved it," Offerbeck said. "That was a memory that stuck in my head forever."
But it was also a business trip. They wanted to buy Ken's jeep and drive it back to Southern California.
"They had the idea to rebuild it and have the Jeep sponsor rebuild it so they can auction it off and send Mackenzie to college," Offerbeck said.
And although Ken Offerbeck loved that car. It was no match for the love he had for his daughter.
"Ken was so adamant about it," Offerbeck said. "He wanted her to have enough money to go to college since he knew he wasn't going to be here and couldn't send her."
The Jeep was rebuilt and is being auctioned off on eBay. In less than two days bids are close to $40,000.
"I don't have any words for it. It's just amazing. Everybody's been so amazing. I just didn't think people do that sort of thing," April Offerbeck said.
Mackenzie is spending her first holiday season without her father.
"She always will remember her dad loved her. I remind her all the time," April Offerbeck said.
But even his passing hasn't stopped Ken Offerbeck from sending her a very special Christmas gift with a little help from his friends.