As many of you already know, on September 21st, President Clinton visited Flint to speak about the digital divide. However, did you know that our very director's wife was called at home, from the White House, to be asked to introduce the president?
\As far as my experience with introducing the president, I found the event absolutely amazing. When I came home from work on September 19th, I never dreamed that I would be receiving a phone call from the White House at 10:30 pm that evening. As it was, I didn't answer the phone as I had gone to bed with a horrible headache. I discovered the message from the White House the next morning, I remember not believing what my ears heard. I called Michael over to take a listen. We both were somewhat in shock," Karla Hudson said.
Through out the day Karla kept in contact with the White House public relations person that left the message.
"He began drilling me with all kinds of questions, again never explaining exactly what I would be helping with during the president's visit," Karla Hudson said. Later that day, she received a call from another public relations person.
"She asked if I would be willing to present the president in Flint tomorrow. I remember answering 'yes, I think I can do that.'" Karla and Michael Hudson met President Clinton in Flint.
"I spent the first part of the next morning getting my hair and make-up done and then I was on my way to Flint. We arrived at Mott Community College by 11:00 a.m., which gave us extra time to get settled in before the big event. I spent an hour in the president's office at Mott Community College practicing my speech with the help of Michael. He provided moral support and gave me pointers such as 'breathe,'" Karla Hudson said.
"I was then escorted by a White House staff person over to the fieldhouse where the event was being held. I walked around the stage becoming familiar with the location of the podium and the arrangements for entering and exiting the stage. We decided that the president would escort me on stage."
When the president arrived, the Hudsons and others formed a receiving line.
"I remember thinking, 'nobody told me what I should say when I meet him.' When he reached me, I simply said, 'Hi Mr. President, I'm Karla Hudson and I will be introducing you today.' 'I'm very glad to have you here.' he stated," Karla Hudson said.
"He approached me to take my right arm to walk onto the stage. I recall requesting that he walk on my left side as I carry my cane on the right. We walked together across the stage with the crowd applauding. What a rush!"
The last line of Karla Hudson's speech was the introduction.
"My last line, introduced the President, which was quite an honor," Karla Hudson said.
"After the event, a select few met with the president for photos. Michael and I had our photo taken with the president. We had an opportunity to meet others from the White House such as a Commissioner of the FCC. My last conversation with the president centered around my desire to get a signature. At my request he signed my Braille speech. This is something I will cherish. He wrote, 'Karla, you were terrific today.'"
"I believe that in a small way I educated another community about the ability and the possibilities that are available when persons with disabilities have access to the needed technology. This event is something that I will share with family and friends for years to come. I wasn't just motivated to introduce the president in order to meet him. I also saw an opportunity to open society's mind to the impact technology can have on the lives of persons with disabilities and the road-blocks that prevent us from succeeding."