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NIH Record - 75th Anniversary - National Institutes of Health

First Lady Sweetens Valentine’s Day at Inn

Melania Trump chats with Caitlyn Ribas, with Jennie Lucca and Dr. Francis Collins looking on.

First lady Melania Trump chats with Caitlyn Ribas, 12, sister of NICHD patient Annie Ribas of Silver Spring, as she visits with kids at the Children’s Inn at NIH on Valentine’s Day. At left is inn CEO Jennie Lucca and looking on is NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.

Photo: Ernie Branson

First Lady Melania Trump visited youngsters at the Children’s Inn at NIH on Feb. 14, decorating cookies and exchanging Valentine’s Day cards with them and encouraging them in their fight against rare or critical illnesses.

Inn CEO Jennie Lucca and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins provided Trump with a tour of the inn and participated in activities alongside her.

The first lady embraces Alexis “Lexi” Bingham.

The first lady embraces Alexis “Lexi” Bingham, 8, of Montrose, Calif. She is an NINDS patient being treated for myopathy.

Photo: Ernie Branson

“It was fun making cookies and meeting and talking to the first lady,” said Amber Negrete, 8, of California, who is staying at the inn while receiving gene therapy at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for giant axonal neuropathy, a rare genetic disorder that progressively affects nerve functioning, much like ALS. “I was excited because she said to me, ‘You’re gorgeous,’ and I asked her how it feels to be first lady, and she said ‘good.’”

“This was very fun,” added Saffron Wolley, 16, of London, England, who is being treated for a rare disorder at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “The first lady was so positive. She is very tall and glamorous. I gave her my valentine. She said it’s very lovely.”

At the end of the first lady’s visit, inn resident Lucy Wiese, 9, of Midlothian, Va., and Lucca presented Trump with a special gift created by the children for the Trump family, including a finger-painted heart with a Valentine’s Day message, a FLOTUS apron with the inn logo, Valentine’s Day T-shirts for the first family and inn mugs labeled FLOTUS and POTUS.

“I made a couple of Valentine’s Day cards for her, and she asked me where I live and how old I am,” said Wiese, who underwent a successful bone marrow transplant for a rare immunodeficiency.

“She was really nice,” said Annie Ribas, 9, of Maryland, who was successfully treated for Cushing syndrome at NICHD. “She would ask questions about why people were staying here, and we wished each other a happy Valentine’s Day.”

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