The request was straightforward:
“James Wiitamaki is dying from cancer at St. Cloud VA Hospital. He would like to receive letters from people.”
Wiitamaki, an Army veteran, wrote the words himself and placed them in an advertisement in a New York Mills, MN, newspaper in January.
A few letters soon arrived for Wiitamaki, but that number surged after his great niece, Brenna Glodowski, shared the ad on Facebook.
The ailing veteran went from receiving 10 letters in early February to 2,000 by mid-month, according to Barry Venable, St. Cloud VA Health Care System’s public affairs officer.
Wiitamaki has declined requests for interviews, but he’s very thankful for all the cards and letters he’s received, Venable said.
“Most have been handwritten,” Venable said. “Valentine’s cards were popular, as well as pictures and drawings from kids.”
One notable letter came from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
“Know that you and your family are in my thoughts. I wish you the very best in your continued fight,” Klobuchar wrote.
Wiitamaki believes in spreading the love.
“Some letters didn’t include his name, so he shared them with other patients so they could have mail,” Venable said.