(CBS News) DETROIT -- It all began with a coffee craving. It all began with a tall, cream-and-sugar-haired guy named Dan Dewey and this urge he got back in 2006 for a grande, black, bold roast.
The Starbucks was just down the road from St. Joseph Mercy hospital outside Detroit, where his dad was getting a chemo treatment. Dan was sitting with his dad and some other patients, when Dan announced, "Anyone want a coffee? I'm buying."
Seven years have passed. His dad beat cancer and stopped coming here long ago. So why, then, is Dan still taking orders?
"It's the best job I ever had, and I have to pay to do it, that's what I tell people," he says. "Somebody says, 'Can you afford that?' I say, 'No, but I never had any money, anyway, so why not share it?'"
To date, Dan, a retired audio-visual specialist for the local school district, has spent about $10,000 of his own money on frou-frou coffee drinks for cancer patients.
He buys the drinks -- almost too many at a time -- and then delivers them to Mercy, and now a second hospital across town.
It's obviously a very sweet thing to do, but oncologist Dr. Rajan Krishnan says Dan's drinks do a lot more than just taste good.
"It's not so much the coffee," he says. "Coffee is the vehicle for the relationship."
I saw what he meant.
"He makes me feel like somebody cares," says 78-year-old Anna Burell, one of his regulars.
I heard that same sentiment from virtually every one of his customers. They all want to pay him --completely unaware that they already have.
"That's all I need is just the smile," Dan says. "That's all I need. And I have a memory bank full of wonderful smiles."
And Dan doesn't even see the half of them. I noticed that long after he's moved on to the next delivery, people are still celebrating his presence.
Whoever said coffee isn't good for you?
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