Steve Jobs opens hotly anticipated Apple event

After indefinitely stepping away from Apple’s day-to-day responsibilities to tend to his worsening medical condition, Steve Jobs delighted fans today by defying the odds and stepping onto the stage to introduce today’s expected iPad 2 announcement.

This is his first public appearance with Apple since announcing his medical leave in January.

Jobs, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, has had a highly storied struggle with his health. Over the past several years he’s seemed to have good days and bad days. Despite a successful surgery to remove a pancreatic tumor, he has been the subject of numerous health issues, and in 2009 had to take a six-month medical leave. That same year was the first time he did not deliver the final keynote address at the annual Macworld Conference.

Since then, though, he has seemed to do better, going back to keynote duties and being on hand to deliver all the huge Apple news. Last year he was excited and energetic when he introduced the iPad – on the same stage as today’s presentation.

Last month, the National Enquirer – which, despite its reputation has actually broken several huge news stories over the years – reported that Steve Jobs only had weeks to live, and was spending time at a hospice-style hospital.

Steve Jobs, arguably more so than any other major company on the planet, is the one and only symbol of the company he runs. Apple’s stock price is always wildly affected by any news on the condition of Jobs.

His presence at today’s event is symbolic more than anything, and potentially even more newsworthy than any product he could announce. As of the time of this story, the presentation is still ongoing. We will post more details about what exactly is announced as the event wraps up.