A University of Kentucky alum who has spent 15 years giving free rides to needy Lexington college students has been hospitalized because of a brain condition.
Four days after a shunt in his brain malfunctioned, Steve “Radar” Rader was found passed out in the van he used to provide rides, often to drunken students, Robert Cabaniss said on the GoFundMe campaign he launched Monday night. Rader suffers from hydrocephalus, which is an excessive accumulation of fluid in the brain.
The campaign, which has raised more than $7,300 in less than 16 hours, has a goal of $100,000 to help cover the surgery Rader is receiving at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.
“Surgery today was scheduled for 1 p.m. but they are running behind so we are still waiting,” Cabaniss wrote on GoFundMe Tuesday at 3 p.m. “Since it is the Neuro ICU, they cannot receive flowers or fruit. Once he is moved to a regular room, we will let you know. Say some prayers today.”
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The Cabaniss family has known Rader for more than 15 years and bought Rader’s first van. The family also helped him set up the nonprofit organization Kentucky Against Drunk Driving. The hope was to expand the nonprofit to other college campuses but that never panned out, said Nancy Cabaniss, Robert’s mother.
Nancy remembers the inspiration behind the free rides was the death of one of Rader’s Pineville high school friends at the hands of a drunken driver.
“He’s had many, many, many vans between now and then,” Cabaniss said. “I was devastated when I heard that he was in the vehicle for four days before anybody found him. He’s such a good guy.”
The Cabaniss family’s relationship with the Raders began through their work in the medical field. Rader’s father, Emanuel, is a physician while Nancy Cabaniss and her husband, Robert, are in pharmaceutical sales. Their son is the organizer of the GoFundMe page.
Rader’s service and phone number has circulated around UK for years. Erin Boban, a junior social work major, remembers grabbing a ride from him when she was a freshmen.
“I think this service is a great, convenient option for UK students. It is a much safer alternative to drunk driving or piling into a fraternity driver’s car and is also cheaper than taking an Uber or taxi,” Boban said. “You know a friendly, reliable man is going to pick you up. Radar drove a group of my friends and I to and from a haunted house in Lexington. He was very sweet and we had a great night, not having to worry about how we were going to get home.”
Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso