MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The longtime owner of a popular Twin Cities drive-in is in the battle of his life.

Jim Wagner, the owner of Wagner’s Drive-in in Brooklyn Park, was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, and the 54-year-old’s health has steadily declined.

“This is an old school drive-in. Just like a drive-in movie,” said friend Jim Mika.

Every Monday night at Wagner’s, there’s a cruise-in where classic cars of all kinds are put on display by a group called the “Wag-niters.”

“Everybody looks forward to Monday nights to come out to Wagner’s. It’s amazing. And we’ll stay until dark,” said Wag-niter Bob Malarkey.

The drive-in is one-of-a-kind, and so is the man who runs it.

“A very unselfish person who will give and give and give until he ain’t got nothing, and then he’ll give more after that,” said Mika.

(credit: CBS)

Instead of being with his friends, Wagner is trying to get stronger in a hospital room, where he’s battling pneumonia along with stage four cancer.

“It’s so aggressive because of his other medical conditions that his body just isn’t fighting it. It just keeps spreading,” said friend Shelly Malarkey.

But Wagner’s friends know he’s a fighter. He’s overcome serious health issues in the past, and they are praying he can do it one more time.

They’re planning a fundraiser for the father of two. In the meantime, they are hearing from dozens of people Wagner himself has helped over the years. From veterans to firefighters, the children’s hospital, to people with disabilities. The generosity he’s shown is now shining through.

“He even said he had no idea of the support that he had out there. Because he touches so many people. It’s incredible,” said friend Bob Malarkey.

Mika says they’re hoping for a miracle.

“To get him around for few more years and keep this thing alive,” said Mika.

A benefit will be held Sunday, October 27 at the Palmer Lake VFW in Brooklyn Park. A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help with Wagner’s medical bills.

John Lauritsen

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