Last night, Joe Ardito and his dad Joe Senior shared the moment of a lifetime. They found themselves in a room with not one, but two American presidents: Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
“I’ve been supporting President Obama steadfastly since 2007,” says Joe. “I donate regularly—I get emails for these kinds of contests every now and then. This one came along and I thought, ‘It’s time to make another donation.’ And I did, and then yesterday happened! I couldn’t believe it all.”
When Joe found out he won the chance to join presidents Obama and Clinton at a fundraiser in his hometown of New York City, he flew from Colorado, where he works at a YMCA camp and conference center.
“I had four days between finding out I won and actually going to New York City for the event. And getting to select my dad as a guest was great, because he has dedicated his entire life to public service: teaching middle school math in New York’s public schools. He’d never met a president before, and it’s a memory we’ll share together for a lifetime.
“We went to the reception yesterday, and waited together with the other winners for presidents Clinton and Obama to arrive. I was the first person to actually go in, and I was trying to follow instructions very carefully! A handler blocked me as I walked in and told me to wait, but President Obama waved and said ‘Come on in—this is going to be fun!’ And the gentleman standing in front of me stepped right aside.
“I went up and shook President Obama’s hand first, and told him it was an honor to meet him. He looked over my shoulder and said, ‘This must be Joe Senior!’ Then I shook Bill Clinton’s hand—I met him as an undergraduate, and I wanted to tell him, but the whole moment was so surreal. I mean, I was standing between two presidents!
“While we were taking pictures and chatting, we spoke about September 11th, the firefighters President Clinton met who were there, and the President’s decision to go after Osama bin Laden. As native New Yorkers, we are very grateful for that. President Obama also thanked me for becoming a summer organizer in Colorado—and I couldn’t believe he actually knew that about me! I let him know my support goes beyond making a donation, and that I admire his start as a community organizer.
“At the end, when President Obama was walking out of the room, he pointed right at me and we made eye contact. He said, ‘Keep organizing Colorado for me,’ and I said we will—and told him to come visit us!
“That’s a moment I’ll tell my children and my grandchildren about: that I casually chatted with the first African-American President of the United States, someone who has changed history and will continue to do so. He is working so hard—waking up every morning and trying to improve the lives of Americans. That’s exactly the kind of change we voted for in 2008.”
Grassroots donors like Joe are the engine of this campaign. Join him, and pitch in to help re-elect President Obama today.