Some 150 disability advocates from across the country headed to the White House Friday for a day-long powwow with administration officials and they got a surprise visit — from the president himself.
The group of advocates included individuals with disabilities, their families and professionals affiliated with The Arc who were invited to meet with Obama administration officials.
The event was part of the White House Community Leaders Briefing Series, a weekly initiative designed to establish direct dialogue between local leaders and top federal officials.
President Barack Obama surprised the group by stepping in for a short, late-morning talk in the South Court Auditorium.
“I want you all to know that I’m going to keep fighting everyday for an America which lives up to our most basic values, not just for some, but for us all. But I need your help,” Obama told the group.
The president praised the advocates for speaking up last summer during a series of tough budget talks about the importance of Medicaid and said that continued advocacy of that kind is needed.
“People with disabilities deserve the chance to build a life for themselves in the communities where they choose to live,” Obama said, adding that he supports high education standards and employment opportunities for those with disabilities.
“I’ve got your back and I’m looking forward to working with you for many years to come,” he said.
In addition to Obama, the group also heard from top officials at the Justice Department and the Medicaid program, among others.