Clovis teacher battling cancer gets to jam on stage with The Killers

'To be able to play on a song like Reasons Unknown is so poetic, because I hear those words all the time from my doctors.'

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ByNic Garcia via KFSN logo
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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Mr. Stetler, a teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Clovis, is on cloud nine after a dream weekend in LA where he got to be on stage with The Killers.

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Clovis teacher is on cloud nine after a dream weekend in Los Angeles.

The man lived out his dream, jamming out on stage with The Killers. His journey to get there is special.

Mr. Stetler, third-grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Clovis, is a runner, a husband, a father, a drummer.... and he's battling a rare form of cancer.

But that didn't stop him from doing all he could to attempt getting pulled on stage at The Killers concert at the Banc of California Stadium in LA over the weekend.

"My wife and I went really early, waited around all day, got pretty close to the front, and I had a sign saying, 'I'm fighting cancer and ready to play drums on Reasons'," he says.

With this sign - and the crowd around him helping get the attention of the band - Joel Stetler got to really smile like he means it.

Turns out practice does make perfect...

He killed the song.

"I told my wife and later wrote about it that it was almost like I was slipping on the skin of some other version of myself in some other universe," he says.

A song that already meant so much to Stetler now has a whole new meaning.

"To be able to play on a song like Reasons Unknown is so poetic, because I hear those words all the time from my doctors. Nobody knows why I have it. Nobody knows what to do about it."

His rare form of cancer is considered terminal, though he's had it for seven years. He's learned to take life one day at a time and to really live it.

That includes trying to inspire others to push through their challenges, so he wrote a book with his students about doing just that.

"I published a book with my students last year and it's on Amazon... All of the funds from that book go to my school, which is a Title I school," says Stetler.

Of All the things he's done, those three minutes on stage will stand out forever.

"I can't stress enough how much of a gift it was to step away from that reality and be the person who plays drums with the killers in LA," says Stetler.

A good reminder for all of us to live in the moment - since so many things in life happen for reasons unknown.