When President Trump gave his State of the Union address last night, the audience in attendance included more than just members of Congress.
Each lawmaker was able to bring an invited guest to sit in the gallery.
Many chose individuals from their districts who represented causes that are important to them.
Democratic Congressman Antonio Delgado, whose district stretches from the Hudson Valley through the Catskills to include the Broome County Town of Sanford, selected a guest to highlight efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
Former Police Chief of the Town of Chatham Peter Volkmann is a recovering addict.
He launched a program called Chatham Cares the gives those with substance use disorder the opportunity to come to the police station to seek help.
“To prove that recovery works. That’s why I started my program. People need help. They’re not criminals. They have a medical condition. I made the conscious choice to help people find treatment beds. 240 souls walked in the past three years and we found beds for 100% of the people with insurance approval,” says Volkmann.
Congressman Tom Reed is Co-Chair of the Diabetes Caucus.
His son has Type 1 diabetes.
Reed invited 14 year-old Ben Cornell from the Chautauqua County Village of Bemus Point who himself has juvenile diabetes.
“I’m here to advocate for Type 1 diabetes and spotlight the issue. The price of insulin is very high and a lot of people have to ration and really can’t afford insulin. And it’s very crucial to their health, obviously,” says Cornell.
Senator Chuck Schumer invited a 6-year-old boy from the Bronx who suffers from heart defects and chronic lung disease as an example of a constituent that relies on medical care made possible by Obamacare.