Joel Baker

Joel Baker thanks Obama for the gift of life.

It was Aug. 4, 2015 when Joel Baker, a Tillamook County resident, received a letter from the President Barack Obama. When he wrote it back in January of that year, he never expected to get a letter back.

One night, in Jan. 2015, Baker got up from bed to work a second shift when he felt like something was wrong with his heart. He had to sit down and his wife asked him if he wanted her to call 911.  He said not yet; that he just needed to lay down in bed. The pain dissipated, but he made a doctor’s appointment to make sure everything was okay.  

Baker was given a stress test at the doctor’s appointment in which the doctor found that his heart wasn’t working as it should. He went from the doctor’s office to the cardiologist, and finally to the hospital. Three weeks later, he got three stents put in his heart.

Baker was so grateful and felt like he had to thank someone. Four months before he had heart issues, he signed up for Obama Care. If he hadn’t have had it, he may not have been able to see the specialists that he needed to. He wanted to write President Obama a letter but wasn’t sure how to or if it would even get to him.

Baker found a phone number for the White House in the phone book and called it. He got a hold of Operator 6 who offered him the president’s email. Baker asked for a physical address to send it to and the operator gave it to him. She asked him what he planned to write to him and Baker said that the president saved his life and he wanted to thank him. The operator said that the he would be glad to hear that.

The only rule Baker had for the letter was to keep it under 90 words because the president read ten letters each day.

He wrote the letter to Obama, saying “The proudest day of being an American was the day you took office. Then 5 years later you saved my life. I got 3 stents in my heart. The specialists I saw might not have seen me if I had not had Obama Care. Me and my wife had just started a restaurant and lounge a year when this happened. We employ 4 people, but they and we are grateful to have jobs in our little town of Tillamook, Oregon. Your passion for health care will save lives for the end of time. And have made our lives wonderful. We would have lost everything, our home, and business.”

Three months later, Baker got a letter back from the president himself. Baker was disappointed because his wife had opened it and read it first. Baker thought about whether or not to share his story with the community, but felt like he should to honor Obama and all that Obama did to help others like him.

“I thought to myself, ‘I should stand up and thank him’,” said Baker.

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