Twelve-year-old Braeden Mannering of Bear received the invitation of a lifetime when the first lady asked him to attend President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech.
Braeden was the youngest of 23 individuals who were honored to sit with first lady, Michelle Obama, second lady, Jill Biden and senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, during the president’s speech Tuesday night.
“I was very, very, very excited,” he said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
The White House said it invited individuals who demonstrate inclusiveness, compassion, innovation and courage.
Braeden’s non-profit 3B/Brae’s Brown Bags provides healthy food to homeless and low-income individuals in his community.
To date, the Gauger-Cobbs sixth grader has recruited more than 2,600 volunteers, provided more than 4,500 “brown bags” and raised more than $52,000 for hunger relief.
Braeden co-hosted Delaware’s first “hunger conference” and continues to promote awareness while speaking at schools, conferences and legislative sessions.
He said he was inspired to act after he attended the White House Kids’ “State Dinner” as part of Michelle Obama’s program Let’s Move!
“Since there are lot of homeless people in Washington D.C. and in Delaware I thought healthy food is something they can’t get a lot of because it costs more,” Braeden said. “I realized they also couldn’t get clean water, and wouldn’t know who to call or where to go.”
He said on Tuesday, he received a tour of the White House and visited the Capitol building by police escort before attending the speech. Braeden said he was honored to be surrounded by so many important people.
“He’s a really good speaker and it was awesome being there to hear him in person,” he said. “He talked about helping families with jobs and healthcare, which is really important for homeless and low-income (individuals).”