A year after meeting the president, Elk River woman talks to Joe Biden

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

An Elk River woman shook Vice President Joe Biden’s hand and listened in amazement as he asked about her health during Biden’s stop Tuesday in Minneapolis.

Lois Dare described the experience as “surreal.”

Lois Dare of Elk River took this photo of Vice President Joe Biden in Minneapolis on Tuesday.

Dare said Biden was shaking hands after his speech at The Depot in downtown Minneapolis when he approached her. He shook her hand, held it for a minute, pointed at her and said, ‘You. I was told about you. How’s your health?’

Dare told him she was great.

“I told him, ‘Thanks Joe. You don’t mind me calling you Joe, do you?’” Dare recalled.

Biden laughed and told her everybody calls him Joe.

Dare said she was amazed that Biden knew to ask about her health.

“Somebody, I don’t know who, told him about my story,” she said.

A photo of Vice President Joe Biden in Minneapolis taken by Lois Dare of Elk River.

That story unfolded when Dare met President Barack Obama in Cannon Falls, Minn. on Aug. 15, 2011. At the time, Dare was unable to work and facing mounting medical bills from a battle with lung cancer, but had been denied Social Security disability. She was at the end of her rope and was determined to meet the president during his stop in Minnesota.

Dare overcame many obstacles, but got in and secured a seat right in front of the president’s podium. When the president began taking questions, she was able to ask him what she was supposed to do when Social Security denied her when she could not work to pay her bills.

The president answered Dare and used her as an example, saying everyone who pays into Social Security should expect to use benefits they have paid for.

When the president concluded his talk, he left the podium to talk to Dare and shake her hand.

He told Dare that she reminded him of his mother, who died of cancer. Then the president leaned in and hugged her. His staff took down her contact information.

Then the president and his entourage left. Dare said he did not have time to even reach the airport before her phone started ringing.

It was Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s office. They had been instructed to resolve Dare’s Social Security problem. The next day Dare received a call from Gov. Mark Dayton.

With their help, her Social Security disability problem was resolved.

Today she said she gets tired but feels good.

“I just thank God I’m still here,” she said.

Lois Dare and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak at The Depot in downtown Minneapolis, where Vice President Joe Biden spoke Tuesday.

Dare said she started volunteering at the Minneapolis office of the Obama campaign last week to take her mind off her medical issues.

“I don’t want to sit there at the house and just worry about cancer and when I’m going to die,” she explained. “I need something to distract me.”

She volunteered at the Biden appearance as well. She had to get cleared in advance through the White House and be at The Depot early the morning of Biden’s speech.

Dare said she was so excited she hardly slept the night before. She was a greeter at the event, and estimated that she greeted more than 1,600 people.

She didn’t expect to meet and talk to the vice president or to talk with the mayor of Minneapolis, but she even got a picture with the mayor as well.

She described it all as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Dare said God has blessed her to be alive to not only meet the president, but meet his vice president as well.

“It was just amazing,” she said.