All Rights Reserved
Jerry Roys & Jen Stansfield
(Photos courtesy Black Starz!)
Doctors told popular Denver movie and food critic Reginald McDaniel to get his affairs in order he had only 90 days to live.
"First there is denial, then anger," McDaniel says. "You ask, Why me? Then you think, Why not you? What makes you so special that you cant die?"
That was last July.
More than five months have past since the death sentence, and McDaniel is still alive and smiling.
MESSAGE FROM GOD
Dressed in his signature eggplant purple suit with matching socks, shoes and tie, McDaniel does not look like a man who has been on oxygen for the past five years.
"To dress like this you have to have two things: no shame, and dont care what people think," McDaniel says with a smile that could light up a solar system.
McDaniel, a man who is always smiling, laughing or both, says this was not the first time a doctor had told him he was living on borrowed time.
McDaniel, who just celebrated the 24th anniversary of his 29th birthday, chuckles at his death notices.
"The first doctor who told me that? Well, I ended up going to his funeral."
For the past six years, McDaniel has battled emphysema, diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Then, everything changed for him Oct. 25 when God sent a message to McDaniel through a visiting evangelist at his church.
The man told McDaniel that he was healed and that God had something for him to do and dying wasnt part of the plan.
McDaniel, who grew up in the Baptist Church, had heard this sort of thing before and answered the evangelist with a skeptical, "Yea, well he knows where I live."
NOTHING TO LOSE
But later that night, despite his skepticism, McDaniel decided to see if this time the prediction might be true. He turned his oxygen off and waited to see what would happen.
"I had nothing to lose by trying," McDaniel says. "I left the tube in [my nose] and turned off the oxygen."
To his amazement, he made it through the night and the next day.
"But the next night was a rough one," he recalls. "I felt like I was choking, and I could smell burning rubber."
McDaniel wanted to reach for his oxygen but stopped himself.
The next morning he was noticeably apprehensive, but he was also still breathing on his own. He decided to go to the emergency room just to make sure everything was okay.
After seeing the doctor, McDaniel was told there was no longer any trace of emphysema or diabetes in his body. He still had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease of an unknown origin, but two-thirds of his very serious medical problems had somehow disappeared.
McDaniel told his doctor, "God touched me. He touched me so you could see and tell others."
While impressed at his overall recovery, his doctor did say that McDaniels heart beat was still a bit fast.
"She believes its because Im not sleeping in the oxygen," McDaniel says, "I believe its because Im excited."
The doctor does want him to have his oxygen on at night, so he does turn it on - to keep her happy, but he doesnt put it on his face.
McDaniel likens his illnesses to Jesus struggle in the wilderness.
"We all have our wilderness that we have to go through," McDaniel says. "For me, the oxygen was not so much a wilderness, as it was just a sand storm.
"My healing was nothing but Gods work and now Im content and happy," McDaniel says with his ubiquitous smile. "I had strong faith beforehand, but God did this for a reason, so now I have to tell folks."
FOOD OF THE GODS
McDaniel enjoys being a film and food critic. He got his start in radio because of his appetite for food. While riding in the car listening to 850 KOA, he heard radio jocks Scott Hastings ask Dave Logan if he ever ate monkey or dog.
Hastings then asked his listeners what the strangest thing they had ever eaten.
McDaniel called in to say he had once eaten monkey in Panama, dog in Korea (while in the military), and cat at a Chinese restaurant.
"I always thought animals were served best between two slices of bread," McDaniel quipped to the radio personality. But then more seriously admitted, "If it walks, swims or crawls, Ill eat it."
Hastings was so impressed with McDaniel, he told him to go eat something else and call him back. That night he went to The Fort and ordered wild musk ox, ostrich and any other wild food he could think of. He called Hastings back the next day. For the next year, McDaniel ate at restaurants and then did call-ins for the radio show, all without pay.
One day the radio manager asked McDaniel what he would do if he had his own radio spot. McDaniel said he would really like to critique movies. He was asked to submit a proposal, did so, and before long had his own radio show.
"When I first started, that was the worst half hour of radio ever," McDaniel laughs. But after his rocky start he began to talk to his listeners like a friend, and in doing that, found his radio trademark.
Today, McDaniel’s program is broadcast on two different radio stations in Denver: 850 KOA and103.5 the FOX. He also does movie reviews for television station WB and Black Starz!.
When McDaniel first started his reviews on the WB, he was still very ill and would take his oxygen off and place it behind his chair out of the cameras view.
"I didnt want people to go for sympathy," he said.
Three weeks ago, he wanted to wear the oxygen on the air for the first time, to show people that there is still life while battling disease, but before he could do that he was healed.
McDaniels program is ever expanding and is broadcast now in St. Louis, Cincinnati and Baltimore. He reviews five movies a week, and he says his favorite movies are horror flicks.
"My favorite is the Exorcist," McDaniel says, "but Im not a good judge of horror movies because I like them all."
McDaniel is currently working on a Web site that will help parents decide which movies their children should see. The Web site, The Everyday Parent’s Entertainment Guide, has five components. The first is a look at movies from a parent’s point of view and explains the rating system.
"I tell them whats in there [the movie], then they decide."
The second part is television, reviewing for parents what is on every day of the week in their area.
The Web site also looks at video games, provides kid-related articles and even has a message board that allows families to share activities in their area with other families around the country. The cost of belonging to the Web site is $2 a month or $12 a year. Just enough, McDaniel says, to cover the cost of maintaining the site.
When asked about why he loves movies so much, McDaniel says it goes back to his childhood days in St. Louis where he spent entire weekends at the Douglas Theater.
"We used to joke that the rats would usher you to your seat, and the roaches would do a soft shoe during intermission," he said.
During his childhood, McDaniel grew up poor and "stubborn." He says he was put out of the house when he was 12.
"St. Louis was rough," McDaniel laughs. "And when my father told me there was only going to be room enough for one grown man in the house, I asked him, When you leaving?"
Despite his fathers harshness, McDaniel says he admires him more than anyone he has ever met.
"I have met a lot of great people but none greater than my father."
The way his father treated people and especially the way he treated women shaped how McDaniel treats people today, he says.
In 1972, McDaniel went to Vietnam. He spent 20 years in the military.
Like so many troubled young men at the time, "I got into the army in handcuffs," he says. He served in Vietnam, Panama and Saudi Arabia.
While in Panama, McDaniel wrote an article for a local newspaper that cast the military in a less than favorable light. A ruffled general promptly suggested he transfer out of Panama and the newspaper was shut down.
In Vietnam, he served as a lab technician, infantry soldier, military police officer and a platoon sergeant.
The end to McDaniels military career came during Desert Storm. He decided to get out when he found out his daughter was serving in the same war.
"When you and your child are in the same war, its time for one of you to get out," he says.
Married twice, McDaniel has a 32-year-old daughter and two grandchildren, Mecca and Heaven. He has always been a religious man, but had stopped going to church while in the military. However, when he and his ex-wife from his second marriage, found a small abused puppy, he found himself back in church.
The dog had Parvo so they took it to the vet, but the vet said it didnt look good.
McDaniel promised that if the dog, named Odie, got better; he would start attending church again.
"The dog got better, but since it was Friday, I figured I didnt have to go to church," McDaniel says. "But then the vet called us back and said the dog had taken a turn for the worse, so I knew I had to go on Sunday."
Odie pulled through, and McDaniel landed back in the house of God.
McDaniel always had a strong faith, but now that he has been healed of two-thirds of his life-threatening illnesses, he says he is definitely going to continue attending church.
"God did this for a reason," McDaniel reiterates. "Now I have to tell folks."