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EXCLUSIVE: Governor Rauner meets with selfless IHOP waiter

Governor Bruce Rauner and his wife came in to IHOP just to meet Joe Thomas. (Courtesy: Matt Witkos)

A Springfield IHOP waiter, Joe Thomas, who became an internet sensation for his act of kindness, got a special visitor Thursday morning.

Joe Thomas' story has been shared around the world. From Britain to Australia, people have heard his story.

Since his story went viral, he's been going about his days the same as he normally would.

He goes into IHOP and starts taking orders, but today was different.

Thomas has his regulars, where he knows exactly what they want, and this time he had special guests.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife came in to IHOP just to meet Joe.

Joe Thomas was recently captured in a photo helping a woman suffering from a medical issue to eat her food.

The woman's husband would normally help his wife, but Joe wanted them to enjoy their food together.

“It makes you tear up a little, this kindness, this generosity, this caring for others is just a great thing,” Governor Rauner said. "It's very exciting. That's why we were like let’s go say hi to him and say thank you for being a wonderful person."

“It was shocking; I had no idea,” said Thomas. “I didn't think it would get that big. I really didn't. I mean the governor… I mean, for real.”

Rauner says he feels fortunate to have a man like this in his state.

“Here is a wonderful human being who cares for others deeply and takes time out of his day to help,” Gov. Rauner said. “He's a wonderful guy.”

Joe's good nature hasn't stopped; He even paid for Governor Rauner and his wife’s meal.

“That's awesome, Joe, thank you,” Gov. Rauner said.

“You guys need anything else?” Asked Thomas.

“I think we are good,” Rauner said.

“Also, you don't have to worry about it; this meal is on me," Thomas said.

After Rauner refused, Thomas told him it was “too late” as it was already taken care of.

“Why should it stop? I mean, this is just the way I am,” said Thomas. “It's the way I’ve always been. Just, this time, someone just caught me doing me and being me and it just took off… I'm nothing special. I am just an average ordinary man and I am nothing special.”

Joe Thomas says there have been other customers who have come in just to see him.

He says he’s still at a loss for words after knowing how much positive recognition he received.

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