By Steve Sears
In October 2018, 10-year-old Grace Eline was declared cancer-free after completing treatment for a rare germ cell brain tumor.
“Fantastic,” says her mom, Aubrey Reichard-Eline, when asked about Grace’s current condition. “She is happy to be out of treatment and focused on normal 4th grader things. We still have a lot of follow up with various doctors which she would rather not participate in, but she knows this is part of life now and in order to stay healthy we must be diligent in follow up for the rest of her life.”
Yes, Grace is thankfully in great health, and that’s a super reason to be elated – perhaps the best.
However, a close second might just be an invitation to Washington, D.C. from the President of the United States.
About two weeks prior to the original State of the Union address (January 31) , the Eline’s learned of an invite by President Donald Trump, but had no idea it was to attend the Address. Learning more specifics as the date approached, the family kept details hush-hush.
“We (Grace and I) went down on Sunday,” explains Aubrey. “We had press pictures at the White House Monday morning. The weather was beautiful, and we spent the rest of the day touring D.C. as Grace had never been there before.” On Monday night, when the press release went out regarding the State of the Union guests, the Eline’s began telling people to watch it.
“VERY excited! I couldn’t believe it at first!” says Grace when asked how she felt when she learned of the invitation.
Grace and her mom had an interview Tuesday morning at their hotel, and then around noon were whisked to the White House. There they met the other guests and their families, and then stepped into the Oval Office to meet and chat with President Trump. “From there we toured the White House, met the Vice President and Mrs. Pence, had dinner, and then met Melania Trump (“They were genuine and very nice,” says Aubrey.)” They were fantastic with Grace.”
“They were very nice,” adds Grace. “The President said he knew all about my story and how brave I am. He was happy I came to see him. The Vice-President knew my story and said he was very happy to get to meet me. He asked how I was liking the day and being at the White House.”
The First Lady confirmed that Grace would sit with her that evening. “It was the best part. I have always looked up to her, so getting to meet her and then sit with her was perfect for me. Melania kept making sure I was okay the entire night which was very nice. I felt very special.”
Aubrey adds, “Grace was so very excited. The entire day had been a dream, and this was the icing on the cake for her! From there, those traveling to the Capital went to the First Lady’s motorcade and departed for the Capital. It was surreal. At the Capital we reviewed where Grace would be. Grace and I were then escorted to Melania’s chambers at the Capital where we sat with her and Mrs. Pence before being officially seated for the speech.”
Grace was then escorted to her seat. “We had an alignment moment – making sure she was good- and I assure you she was. She said, ‘Mom I’ve got this.’ We kissed, and she took her place. Melania was escorted in and I went back to her chambers to watch with other guests and staff. I had a great spot to watch – including chocolate, comfy seats and tissues as it was amazing and emotional.”
When President Trump addressed Grace from the podium, she stood up to much applause. “Very excited!!! It was amazing!!! I almost couldn’t believe it was actually happening,” Grace recalls.
“Afterwards, we were right there when she came out of the speech. Senators and Representatives kept coming up to her to congratulate her and talk to her as we were making our way back to the motorcade back to the White House.”
“(It was) nothing short of AMAZING.”
Grace celebrated her 10th birthday on December 16 in a very special way. She hosted a Dance-a-thon to benefit children battling cancer. The local community, local businesses and supportive friends helped the event come together. “Throughout treatment, when we would have a moment of not feeling so good or we were on our way to treatment or just because we made it another day,” says Aubrey, “we would put on a sassy playlist and dance around. When it came time to plan her 10th birthday – and we have always done her birthdays for charity – we thought ‘Why not dance for this one as there was so much to celebrate and raise even more for a good cause?’ So, the Dance-a-thon idea was born as a way for everyone to have some fun, raise awareness and raise money for a beautiful charity that helped us so much – The Valerie Fund.”
As for the Washington D.C. trip, Aubrey summed up the entire day. “We had a very good experience. The staff took great care of us. Everyone we met was very genuine and caring in our conversations. The other guests were also inspirational to be with for that day. The overall experience was very uplifting, and we were truly honored to be a part of it. We are extremely fortunate that Grace took a not so good situation and turned it into a positive for so many. We are so happy that Grace was chosen to represent this cause and to be honored the way she was for the country and the world to see that even in the darkness there can be great light.”