Thursday, March 25, 2010

A CANCELED PLAYDATE (And a Pretty Good Excuse)

by Brennan LaBrie

I had a playdate planned – but I guess I’ll have to put it off for a little while.

Something came up.

My friend had to go see the President of the United States.
A new friend of mine, Marcelas Owens, was flown to Washington, D.C., to attend the signing of the new healthcare bill. Marcelas, 11, stood right next to President Obama as Obama signed the new bill into law.

Marcelas got to be a part of this special day by going through something very hard: his mother, Tiffany, died in 2007 after her heart condition, pulmonary hypertension, caused the loss of her job and with it the loss of her health insurance and home.

She had been an advocate for healthcare reform. She spoke out for healthcare and died because she had none.

After her death, Marcelas felt he wanted to speak up as well.

“My grandma told me that even if you’re nervous you do it anyway,” he told me, “and that you have to be able to not be afraid speaking what you have on your mind.”

That advice helped him when he was in Washington, D.C. March 11 where he stood before Congress to tell what happened to his mother in hopes of getting the healthcare bill passed.

The bill was voted on Sunday, and it was late Sunday night when Marcelas got the good news. Not long after that, he was on a red-eye flight to Washington, D.C. to attend the signing.

“It was really exciting. I didn’t know the bill was going to pass that fast!” he said.

Marceles wore a suit as he watched the President sign, and his blue tie matched Obama’s. I asked him if he had planned that.

“No,” Marcelas said. “Someone that worked there picked it out for me.”

Becoming president is something Marcelas would like to do some day. It’s either that or become a professional basketball player.

By Wednesday noon Owens was on a plane back to Seattle. The trip flew by fast, but he had favorite moments – meeting the President topped the list, but he also liked the Washington, D.C., yo-yo that Obama gave him as a souvenir.

For Obama, the bill passing was just the beginning. He still has a lot of work ahead as he prepares to tour the country to promote the new bill. Marcelas has more work to do as well, as he continues to speak out -- and, of course, there’s school. But he is up for all of it.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” he said.

Marcelas was looking forward to the celebration waiting for him when he returned home, and felt very good about the trip and this week’s victory for getting healthcare for all Americans.

“This meant a lot because my mom was working so hard for it,” he said, “and she didn’t get a chance to finish it.”

And as for that playdate, I imagine it will happen after he gets a bit of rest. We plan to play hard, then talk ideas.

And of course try out that new yo-yo.

This article was published:

Port Townsend Leader 03/31/10
TIME For Kids 03/26/10

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