Support for ‘Pizza Man’ boosts his self-confidence
Anson Lemmer, now known around the world as the Pizza Man who performed CPR when making a delivery — said Friday he is taken aback by the attention he’s received.
“Just the support I’ve gotten from everybody. People all over the country and across the Atlantic Ocean,” Lemmer said. “It restored my self-confidence.”
He said it’s been magic since the Post Independent on Wednesday published the first account of his action as a good Samaritan.
“I left a pizza boy and came back a pizza man,” he said in that story.
On the night of June 15, Lemmer was making his last delivery for Uncle Pizza in Glenwood Springs, where he had worked for only a short time.
The order was for two 20-inch Uncle Chrises, the store’s version of a Hawaiian pizza, and two 2-liter sodas, totaling around $55.
Lemmer arrived at the home in south Glenwood Springs to find three men outside. One man was on the ground turning blue while another called 911 and the third was attempting mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
When Lemmer was 12, he learned CPR through a Red Cross baby-sitting program. At the time, he often watched his two little brothers, Alex, now 16, and Avery, now 10, along with other kids in the family’s Minnesota neighborhood.
“It was a comfort for me to know that in any situation, I would be ready,” Lemmer said, but he’d never had to use it.
Then, at age 19, he came upon a crisis and began doing chest compressions on the man who was in trouble.
An officer arrived soon with a plastic mask to help the man breathe.
Another two minutes passed and EMTs with the Glenwood Fire Department arrived. That’s when Lemmer said he backed off and the EMTs were able to find a pulse.
Lemmer stayed around after explaining to the officer why he was there. He said he received a $25 tip in total from all the guys that night, but they no longer wanted the pizzas and didn’t pay for them. Lemmer took the pizzas back to Uncle Pizza and then took one home.
Glenwood fire officials confirmed the incident, but couldn’t provide medical details. A man at the house where the pizza was delivered declined to give his name Friday, but said the man who was revived had come back to the house not long after the incident.
Soon after the PI story, Lemmer’s phone was ringing nonstop with callers ranging from a British press agency to local radio to MTV News.
“That was really crazy,” Lemmer said. “It was a cool Q and A.”
The bulletin board at Uncle Pizza now says, “Way to go Anson.”
His boss, Mark Obrochta, the owner of the Glenwood Uncle store said Lemmer is a “quiet, reserved guy with a great smile.”
Said Lemmer, “Earned me a lot of respect and street cred, I guess.”
Lemmer was recounting the story to his brother, Alex, when Alex said he “left a pizza boy and came back a pizza man.” So credit for the line read round the world goes to Alex, Lemmer said.
Don’t let it go to your head, his parents told him.
“I could see how it would inflate people’s egos,” Lemmer said. “The speed at which it took off made me feel like this planet is smaller than it is. I’m just holding onto my belief that I didn’t really do anything heroic.”
As of Friday afternoon, about 200,000 people had viewed the original story on Postindependent.com, and a different version had been translated to Dutch. The story was particularly popular in Australia, according to PI digital metrics.
Even though Lemmer plans to brush up on CPR, his real passion is writing. He’s tailored his two years at the University of Colorado Denver toward that ambition.
“I think it’s like my truest passion,” Lemmer said. “I can create a universe apart from this one.”
With mounting tuitions costs, he said the generosity of strangers — he’s received 100 friend requests on Facebook and messages from people in Boston — has made the next step in his journey possible. That is to get an apartment with a friend and continue his studies at CU Denver.
Before this occurred, Lemmer had a Fundly page where mostly his family donated to his efforts to pay for college. Since the “craziest delivery ever,” he’s created a GoFundMe page, which has pulled in $700 so far.
Lemmer said he is proud that a positive story — the PI story was prominent all day Thursday and Friday on Reddit’s Uplifting News page — was getting so much publicity instead of the usual “discord that makes a headline,” he said.
“I’m generally a shy, introverted person,” Lemmer said. “I think it’s helping me get past that. I was lying in bed in my boxers talking on the radio for an hour or two.”
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