A terminally ill man got the thrill of his life Tuesday evening when he got a surprise phone call from the president of the United States — thanks to the efforts of his Democrat sister.
“You’re a champ, you know that?” President Trump told Jay W. Barrett, a New Haven, Conn., man who is living out the last stages of cystic fibrosis in hospice care at his sister’s house. Doctors have given Barrett six months to live.
Trump began the phone call by telling the sick man he looked handsome, but Barrett was having none of that. “I look like sh*t,” he scoffed, prompting a laugh from the president.
“You’re just fighting it, right?” Trump continued. “You’re just fighting it?”
“That’s what the Irish do, right?” Barrett replied.
“Yeah, that’s what the Irish do,” the president agreed. “You better believe it,” he added. “I wish you could come to a rally. I wish you could come. I know you would like that stuff.”
Trump had kind words for Barrett’s sister, Democrat city council member Bridgette Hoskie, who pulled many strings to make the phone call happen.
“It sounds like you have a great sister,” Trump said.
Hoskie may be “100 percent Democrat,” but she worked her tail off to get people in the community to reach out to the president on behalf of her Trump-supporting younger brother.
“My brother is very conservative, but politics aside, I think in a family religion and politics are off the table,” she told the New Haven Register. “He hasn’t always had it easy and been able to do the things other people do. But yeah, he’s my baby brother — time is chasing us.”
When Barrett took a downturn recently and was treated at Yale New Haven Hospital, Hoskie took to Facebook, discreetly asking friends there to “help in making something on my brother’s bucket list a reality.” She wrote that it was a “secret/surprise” and asked those interested to private message her or make a comment and she’d message them.
Her private message to the willing was, “Please log onto whitehouse.gov and send a request to the president asking him to contact my brother. He loves Trump and it’s on his bucket list. He’s currently in Yale’s ICU so this happening would be amazing. Use your info and my brothers in the message.”
Hoskie said her brother would be thrilled just to get an acknowledgment from Trump that he’s a huge admirer.
During the phone call, Trump and Barrett discussed ways they could meet up, either when the president visits Connecticut or if Barrett makes it Washington, D.C.
“You’ll be sitting front row, center,” Trump promised.
The president told Barrett that he had read “a beautiful story” about him and thought, “I wanna call that man.”
Barrett said he’d stuck with the president “through thick and thin” and intended to vote for him in 2020.
“You’d better vote for me in 2020, I tell ya,” the president shot back.
“I can’t believe that he called — I’m ecstatic about it,” the 44-year-old Barrett told the New Haven Register. “It was an amazing experience.”
Barrett got the telephone call on Hoskie’s telephone at about 5:30 p.m. She was told last minute the president was going to call and rushed home from work, keeping it a surprise until the end.
Barrett said his older sister handed him the telephone and the voice on the other end said, according to Barrett, said, ‘I’m the secretary for the president of the United States. Do you have time to talk to him?’
The surprise phone call came after both Eric Trump and HUD official Lynne Patton contacted Barrett to say Patton was going to visit him on Saturday and “bring a gift.”
“She hit me up on Instagram — it’s pretty incredible,” Barrett told the Register on Monday.
On Saturday, HUD official Lynne Patton will deliver a gift from Trump and his family to Barrett when she returns to her hometown in Connecticut.
Barrett was floored Monday night when Eric Trump called him at about 7:45 out of the blue to let him know the family was sending a special gift Saturday.
It was an exhausting first day home from the hospital, but so exciting, Barrett said.
“He told me they’re pulling for me and praying,” he said. He said Eric Trump told him the president had a special gift for Barrett.
Patton, who is from New Haven, reached out to the Trump family at the request of a Facebook friend after a Register story about Barrett’s wish was posted online.
Patton wrote on Facebook: “Done. Just spoke to Eric Trump and he has a signed gift from his father especially for Jay. And trust me, Trump doesn’t sign much anymore now that he’s POTUS, so this is very special.”
Barrett told the Register that he was “thrilled” about the visit. “She said she’s going to bring me something, but the expectations are none,” he said. “It’s the thought that counts, not the gift itself.”
Hoskie told the Register that her brother is a Trump supporter “through and through.”
Barrett, who for most of his life considered himself an Independent, voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, but not the second time around because he didn’t like the push on mandated health care and other policies.
Barrett said he came to realize he was a Republican and fell in love with Trump’s style at the launch of his campaign, and later, his because of his policies.
“He’s outspoken — that’s how I am and it’s gotten me in trouble, but in a good way,” Barrett said, adding it’s gotten Trump in trouble, too, “but from a different stage.”
Barrett said he likes Trump’s authenticity and the fact that Democrats automatically oppose everything he says.
“If Trump came out and said, ‘Oxygen is good,’ they’d come out and say it’s bad,” Barrett quipped.
He said another thing that attracted him to Trump in 2016 was the candidate’s “business savvy.”
“I thought we needed a businessman to run this country — everyone has screwed it up to this point,” he said.
Before his health went downhill, Barrett asked his sister if she thought they could find a way to get him to D.C.
Hoskie said he asked, “Can you imagine if we got there and saw him” and got to shake his hand?
She said her brother’s ultimate wish was to meet the president in person.
Barrett told the Register that he was grateful for anything, but “taking that trip to Washington and shaking Trump’s hand still would be the ultimate.”