From: Jen Bendery [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:19 PM
To: Velz, Peter; Barnes, Desiree N.
Subject: Pool report #1 -- Wounded Warrior ceremony + Biden being Biden
A gorgeous sunny day for today's South Lawn event: a welcome ceremony for the Wounded Warrior Project's Soldier Ride. Today marks the eighth annual ride.
The event was open press, but your pooler will give you a little color.
Per the White House, the cycling event was started to help Wounded Warriors restore their physical and emotional well-being, and raise awareness of the nation’s Wounded Warriors who battle the physical and psychological damages of war.
VA Secretary Robert McDonald stood with Obama and Biden and spoke briefly to the crowd of maybe 200 people before Obama was up.
Obama called the event "one of my favorite events every single year." He gave a shout-out to each branch of the military, and got shouts back from the crowd.
"We are among heroes today," Obama said. He told stories of some of the soldiers in attendance -- one who struggled with PTSD, another whose leg was destroyed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan -- and of how they've been helped by Wounded Warriors.
"You're not alone. We've got your back," Obama told them. "We will be with you on that long journey."
In the background, two little girls in spring dresses twirled around the lawn, far more interested in playing in the grass than seeing the president. To the side, the U.S. Marine band waited for their cue to being playing, and guests drifted between a couple of tents with cups of water.
Obama then got to his "favorite part" of the event, which is blaring the horn to kick off the race. "Ready, set, BLAAAAAARE." Riders on bikes and in wheelchairs took off, to cheers. They took a lap around the South Lawn and got some high fives from Obama on their way back.
The band started playing, and Obama and Biden wandered to the ropes and began talking to people in the crowd. Obama shook some hands and made his way toward the Oval Office, where someone nearby shouted out, "Thanks for all you do, sir." He responded, "Thanks for your service." He disappeared into the Oval.
It seemed the event would be over, but Biden wasn't done. He stuck around for at least another ten minutes, shaking many more people's hands, posing for photos, talking to people, telling stories.
At one point he got talking to Elizabeth Welke of Shenandoah, Iowa. Moments later, she was visibly shocked as Biden took her phone and called her husband, Brian. Welke told your pooler that her husband greeted Biden with a "hi beautiful!" because he thought it would be Elizabeth. They spoke for at least a minute, and Elizabeth said Biden told her husband that "he married up."
The WH photographers probably got some great shots of Biden on the phone with Elizabeth standing nearby in shock. Your pooler has some less high-quality photos of it on her iPhone, if you'd like to see.
Sent from my iPhone.