Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

 

White House visit

Weather, which impacted both of the Olympics in Vancouver, also dampened the celebration at the White House today, April 21, 2010, planned for the south lawn. Instead of all the athletes and delegations being outside, we broke into small groups in separate rooms in the West Wing of the White House.
Bonnie St. John, Mike and Peggy Fleming
Soon after arriving and being escorted to the West Wing lobby by the Secret Service, I was joined by Bonnie Saint John, an amputee skier from the 84 Paralympics and then by Peggy Fleming from the 1968 Olympics. Bonnie commented that Peggy looked stunning and must have been 9 years old instead of 19 when she competed. We had a great time visiting and then we were escorted to the "Map" room, quite the appropriate place for a GPS guy to meet the President. Our little group was joined by Iraqi veteran, Heath Calhoun and Shani Davis who won bronze and gold medals both in 2006 and 2010. Other dignitaries trickled in while we got situated for our meet and greet.

With great gusto, the Obamas and Bidens congratulated all of us, we chatted individually and took formal and informal photos together. When hugging Michelle Obama, I was surprised how tall she was. I reminded the President that we had met in July and passed along greetings to them both from Stevie Wonder who I hung out with last night in DC.

The Bidens were very gracious and I was struck how lively the Vice President could be. You could tell he would be fun to adventure with.
From left to right
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President
Kareem Dale, Assistant to the President for Disability Affairs
President Obama
Bonnie St. John, amputee skier from 1984 Paralympics
Mike May, blind skier from 1984 Paralympics and 1982 Winter games 
Peggy Flemming, gold medal ice-skater from 1968 Olympics
Michelle Obama 
Dr. Jill Biden 
Vice-President Joe Biden
Mike’s Seeing Eye dog, Miguel, is poking out at knee level between Mike and Peggy.

The photo is taken in front of the fireplace in the Map Room of the White House. There is an historical painting behind Peggy Flemming and another behind the President. The walls are paneled and there is a Persian rug on the floor. 

Valerie Jarrett is wearing a traditional black skirt suit with a light blue top. Her necklace looks like a beaded affair with tiny pearls interspaced with blue turquoise.  Her diamond earrings are huge and look great. Her smile is genuine and her makeup flawless. She looks comfortable in her own shoes.

Kareem Dale, sports a buzz haircut, just like President Obama. He is wearing a gray suit with a white shirt.  His tie has a pattern composed of different colored circles but looks burgundy.  He is wearing black shoes.  

President Obama looks sharp in a black suit, white shirt and a baby blue tie.  His smile lights up the room.   He has tiny smile crinkles around his eyes which let a person know that his smile is genuine.

Bonnie St. John looks like fun. She has a cute short hair cut and a huge smile.  She is wearing black slacks and blouse with a fuchsia jacket. She has a Mabe pearl necklace and a silver pendant on her jacket.  She is wearing black shoes.

Mike May looks dashing in khaki slacks, blue shirt, and a sport jacket with blue and khaki running throughout.  His brightly colored tie gives a hint of his playful personality.

Peggy Fleming is wearing a burgundy knit dress with a black pattern on her chest. She is wearing a black necklace and earrings.  Her brown hair falls straight just past her shoulders.  She is wearing platform strappy tan shoes with open toes. It looks like she has French manicured toenails.
 
Michelle Obama is tall and striking in a tangerine dress reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy.  This raw silk dress has a scoop neck, empire waist with darts above and pleats below. She is wearing blue strappy sandals that most women wouldn't dare to wear with a bright dress but it looks great on her.  She has tiny earrings that don't take away from her stunning dress.  She looks like someone you want to have an intellectual conversation with. Her black hair is straightened, parted on the left side and falls to just above her shoulders.

Jill Biden is wearing an orange/blue block knit skirt and top.  She has pearl earrings and a looped pearl necklace. Beige heels with open toes. Her blonde hair falls in soft curls to her shoulders.

Vice President Biden is wearing a dark navy suit with a light blue shirt.  His tie is navy with a red stripe.  He has a white handkerchief in his breast pocket.  He has gray hair combed back.

After they all moved on to the next room with more Olympic athletes, we got a quick tour of the Oval office and then made our exit. I dashed for Union station to make a train to Harrisburg for a conference Thursday and then back out to the "left" coast for the CTEBVI conference. I did rather enjoy taking a taxi with Peggy Fleming, guiding the driver to her hotel and then to the train station. Starting with my spontaneous trip to DC for the inauguration last January, I keep being surprised when two, three, four and now five visits have transpired for White House related events in 15 months. What a privilege and how fun to reflect back to the first visit in 1984.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

 

1984 and 2010 Olympic and Paralympic celebrations by Mike May

I did a search on Google to find a press release about the White House reception this Wednesday for the Olympic and Paralympic team, which I will be attending. Little did I know that there would be a YouTube video of the 1984 President Reagan speech, which included Ron Salviolo and me, the only disabled skier at the reception. It is so
amazing to briefly relive those moments through President Reagan's voice, hearing about the amazing athletes of the 84 Olympics in Sarajevo who we hung out with. I got goose bumps all over again.

Little did I know in 1984 that I would have the honor of being part of President Obama's delegation to the Paralympics and attending a reception, 26 years later, with 50 Paralympic athletes along with the 2010 Olympic athletes. This YouTube video is courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library.

2010 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams Bring Excitement of Games to Washington DC

4/14/2010

President Obama, the First Lady and the White House Office on Olympic, Paralympic and Youth Sport will host Team USA at the White House on Wednesday, April 21. The President and First Lady will congratulate the athletes on their performances and thank them for representing the United States during the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. They will also discuss the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation. U.S. Teams have visited the White House following an Olympic Games at the
invitation of the President over the past 34 years. More details will be sent out shortly.
See the entire release

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