Michelle Obama picks disaster heroes, gay athlete as speech guests

Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:06am EST
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Heroes of the Boston Marathon bombing, a firefighter who led the rescue response to an Oklahoma tornado, and an openly gay basketball player will be among U.S. first lady Michelle Obama's guests at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The White House uses Mrs. Obama's seating area in the chamber of the House of Representatives during her husband's annual speech to Congress to highlight people and issues that are important to her and the administration.

A Washington, D.C. teacher and the youngest intern at Intel Corp will also join the first lady, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in the box on Tuesday, the White House said.

Below are the names and descriptions of the guests the White House has released so far:

1) Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman of Boston

Arredondo, wearing a white cowboy hat, was photographed helping a severely injured Bauman during last year's bombing of the Boston Marathon. The picture became a hopeful symbol of the devastating attack. Bauman lost both of his legs. The two men have become close friends, the White House said.

2) Gary Bird, fire chief in Moore, Oklahoma

Bird led the rescue response to the tornado, which struck Moore, killing 25 people including children. "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 White House said.

3) Jason Collins - basketball player   Continued...

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama jogs with children at a back-to-school event at Orr Elementary School in Washington September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Gary Cameron