Composite screenshot of Glenn Beck and Associated Press YouTube videos
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Update: This story has been updated to include comments from Katie Wurzelbacher, Joe's wife.
Joe the Plumber, an Air Force veteran and American patriot, is in a fight for his life after a tough cancer diagnosis. However, BlazeTV host Glenn Beck and his audience just made that fight a little easier by helping Joe exceed his fundraising goal in about a half-hour.
Joe Wurzelbacher of Toledo, Ohio, better known as Joe the Plumber, first became a national figure in 2008 after a chance encounter with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Wurzelbacher was a single father at the time, and he expressed concerns that Obama's ideas regarding taxes and wealth redistribution would negatively impact his bottom line.
Obama did not deny that it likely would. "It’s not that I want to punish your success," Obama replied. "I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too. ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody."
After that meeting, Wurzelbacher enjoyed some national fame for a while but eventually faded back into obscurity. He met and married his wife, Katie Wurzelbacher, and the couple then had three children together.
In January, the Wurzelbacher family received some devastating news: Joe had been diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Within months, the cancer had spread to his liver, and by July, the chemo had stopped working.
On Friday, Joe the Plumber spoke with Glenn Beck and discussed his health situation. "You have good days and bad days," he explained. "Today is a little rougher than some. But again, I'm here. And I'm grateful for it."
Despite his positive attitude, the effects of the disease have taken their toll. "I dropped over 100 pounds," Joe said. "I went from 250. And right now, I weigh 146 pounds."
Joe explained that with all the ups and downs of treatment and faced with an uncertain future, he and wife Katie have had to lean into their Christian faith this year. "I know God can perform miracles at any time. And I truly believe that. It's an incredible feeling knowing that," Joe affirmed. "But at the same time, pancreatic cancer is no joke. And most people unfortunately pass away from it."
So, in addition to his concerns about his long-term prognosis, Joe is worried about what might happen to his family should he not survive. "As a husband and a father," he explained to Beck, "I just want to make sure my wife and children have support they're gonna need, in case it goes the other way."
To that end, Katie Wurzelbacher established a GiveSendGo fund to help not only with medical and other day-to-day expenses but to help the family afford to finish their basement so that Joe's aging father, who has his own health challenges and lives with them, can have a comfortable space for himself.
Before the interview with Beck, the GiveSendGo account had just over $27,000 of its $50,000 goal. A half-hour after the account was promoted on "The Glenn Beck Program," the account surged to almost $67,000, a $40,000 jump.
Though Joe was unaware of just how generously Beck's listeners would respond to his story, he still expressed gratitude for the love and spirit of giving that he has witnessed ever since his diagnosis. "There are a lot more good people out there than bad," Joe claimed. "We have some differences out there, but ultimately, people want to do good things. And that's been incredible to see."
The generosity that so many have shown will certainly help alleviate some of the family's struggles.
Katie Wurzelbacher, whom Joe described as "wonder woman," has worked tirelessly to care for her husband and to keep their children's lives as normal as possible. Even though she has to tackle new problems and challenges all the time now, she indicated in a statement to TheBlaze that loving her husband and family and devoting herself to their wellbeing are what she signed up for when she married Joe.
"I take my vows to him very seriously. In sickness and in health," she wrote in part to TheBlaze. "If I had my way, we wouldn’t be dealing with this at all. It’s a scary journey filled with ups and downs, anxiety, humility. Sometimes the thought of losing him is so overwhelming that I want to hide from it all. But he is my best friend, my partner, this is our life right now and he needs my love and support now more than ever. I know if the roles were reversed he would be doing the same for me."
Beck closed the segment with Joe Wurzelbacher by assuring him that he needn't worry about providing for his family any more. "Joe, rest assured, if, you know, a miracle doesn't happen, that we're here for Katie and your kids," Beck promised. "And we'll make sure that they're taken care of."
As evidenced by the GiveSendGo account, Beck and his listeners have already begun to make good on that promise.
To watch the full segment, click below:
Legendary Obama Challenger "Joe the Plumber" Fighting for His Lifeyoutu.be
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.