Talk about making a statement.
The first round of guests who will be seated with First Lady Michelle Obama when President Barack Obama delivers his 2014 State of the Union Address on Tuesday has been released, and it looks like Jason Collins and Boston Marathon bombing survivors have made the cut.
Collins’ attendance is set to make quite a splash at the address — last year he came out as the first openly gay professional basketball player. While states battle with gay marriage legislation and the Sochi Olympics dissent to homosexuality is at an all time high, it’s clear what message the President may be trying to send — tolerance.
And piggybacking off of his inauguration speech, where he urged equality for all despite sexual preference, it seems Obama is driving home his point. But this isn’t the first time the Obamas have chosen to make a statement at the SOTU. In 2013, they invited mother of slain teen Hadiya Pendleton to join them in an effort to curb gun violence, just a few weeks after her death and the tragic Newtown massacre.
Boston Marathon Bombing survivors Carlos Arredondo (known as the Cowboy Hat Hero) and Jeff Bauman will also be in attendance. According to a White House press release, both embody what it means to be “Boston Strong.”
Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman are forever linked due to the attacks on the 117th Boston Marathon. In what has become an iconic image from the day in April of 2013, Carlos – wearing his white Cowboy hat – was captured rushing a badly injured Jeff away from the bombing to safety, thereby becoming two of the faces of ‘Boston Strong.’ From his intensive care hospital bed, Jeff played a vital role in identifying the bombers. After losing both legs in the attack, he is battling back, describing himself as a quick healer and stronger now than he was before the attack. Jeff, 27, and Carlos, 53 and a Gold Star Father, have become close friends.
Other guests are as follows:
Gary Bird (Moore, OK)
Fire Chief: Fire Chief Gary Bird represents all of those who rallied together to help the community of Moore, Oklahoma – firefighters, police officers, teachers, neighbors – in its greatest time of need: The immediate aftermath of the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, killing 25 men, women and children and devastating a community of more than 1,000 homes and businesses. Bird and his search-and-rescue crews worked through the path of the storm to rescue survivors. “We will be through every damaged piece of property in this city at least three times before we’re done, and we hope to be done by dark tonight,” Bird said in a press conference the evening the tornado hit. Bird began his career in 1981 as a volunteer firefighter in Ninnekah, Oklahoma. After four years as a volunteer, he was hired by the Moore Fire Department, working his way through the ranks. He was appointed Deputy Fire Chief in February 2003, a position he held until being named Fire Chief on June 30, 2012.Bird and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 34 years, and they have a son, two granddaughters, and a six-month-old grandson.
Joey Hudy (Anthem, AZ)
“Maker” and Intel Intern: Joey Hudy is a self-described “Maker,” part of a growing community of young people, adults, and entrepreneurs who are designing and building things on their own time. Joey first shot to fame in 2012 when, at 14-years-old, he attended the White House Science Fair where the President took a turn using the contraption he had made — the “extreme marshmallow cannon” – and launched a marshmallow across the East Room. Joey then handed the President a card with his credo: “Don’t be bored, make something.” Now 16, he has continued to live by his motto, appearing at Maker Faires all across the country. Joey, a proponent of STEM education, is determined to teach other kids about how they can make and do anything they want. Joey lives in Anthem, Arizona with his mom, dad, and older sister. Earlier this month, he started as Intel’s youngest intern, a position Intel CEO Brian Krzanich offered him on the spot at his Maker Faire exhibit.
Kathy Hollowell-Makle, (Washington, DC)
2013 DCPS Teacher of the Year: Kathy Hollowell-Makle was named 2013’s District of Columbia Public School’s Teacher of the Year after more than 15 years teaching in the District. Kathy began as a Teach for America corps member in the District in 1998 and currently teaches at Abram Simon Elementary in Southeast Washington, DC. By the school year’s end, more than 90 percent of her students demonstrate early literacy at proficient or advanced levels and last year, more than 80 percent of her students advanced two or more reading levels. Kathy contributed some of her experience and expertise to a roundtable with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding early childhood education. Kathy emphasizes a positive attitude and focuses on fluency in reading, writing and counting, explaining: “The best part of teaching is having former students recognize me, and being able to see how wonderful they turned out to be.” Kathy lives in Washington, DC with her husband Stephen and two sons Amir and Ian. She is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana.
More guests will be announced as Tuesday’s address approaches.
SOURCE: White House | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty