An update on the 14-year-old diabetic girl we met in Charlotte

September 10, 2012

Anais Paterno was one of the thousands of people who thought they would be unable to get inside last Thursday to see President Obama give his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.

We spotted Paterno, 14, Thursday night curled up in the Charlotte Convention Center, crying because she was convinced she wouldn't be able to see the president.  She suffers from Type 1 Diabetes and wanted to thank Obama in person for the health-care reform law's protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. 

Her story caught our attention – how could it not? – and we wrote about how she and many others would not get a chance to see the president in person. 

What seemed like the sad story of a disappointed teenager has a happy ending: “In the end, we did get in the stadium!” Anais wrote in an e-mail this weekend to The Washington Post.

Anais, her mother Silvana and a family friend woke up in Atlanta last Thursday at 3 a.m. to drive four hours north to Charlotte. After searching for five hours for arena passes, the trio secured only one.

So the family friend used her pass to get into the arena, “went inside and somehow brought back two credentials from people who were leaving,” Anais wrote in her e-mail. They got in just as Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) spoke. 

“We sat in the 'nosebleed' section, around gate/row 227, squished in one seat that another man so kindly gave up for us!” she added. “But it didn't matter where we were sitting, as long as we were there!”

“The same confidence and strength that I saw in 2008 was still present in his acceptance speech, despite all the current problems and negative feedback from Republicans,” she said.

In the hours after our story appeared Thursday night, Obama campaign aides worked to find the Paternos and give them tickets, placing several calls Thursday night and reaching out via social media. They didn’t find the mother and daughter. “We were happy to learn that the Paternos were able to watch the President's historic speech inside the arena,” Obama campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher said in an e-mail today.

“We are reaching out to every community credential holder in the coming weeks to let them know of opportunities to participate in future events.” Fetcher added. 

In other words, Anais may one day soon get her chance to meet and thank the president in person.

“That would be awesome,” Silvana said.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.
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