Suffolk family enjoys White House egg roll
Published 9:45 pm Saturday, April 18, 2009
While most local families were going back to work and enjoying spring break this week, one Suffolk family made a trip to Washington, D.C., for a very special occasion.
The Stockards – parents Dewayne and Renee and daughter DeShayna, 9 – were among more than 30,000 families from 45 states and the District of Columbia who converged on the White House on Monday for the annual Easter Egg Roll, a White House tradition since 1878.
“It was the most carefree, exciting day,” said Renee Stockard. “When I go to think about it, I think, ‘That actually happened.’”
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The Stockards were personally invited by First Lady Michelle Obama, after Renee Stockard met the first lady at a roundtable for military wives last year that Obama attended. Dewayne Stockard retired from the U.S. Navy after 22 years, and Renee Stockard works for PSD Afloat, which helps ensure service members get all the pay, benefits, awards and records they are entitled to.
As personal guests of the first lady, the Stockards and other military families received an intimate tour of the White House, which included areas most tourists don’t see. They also participated in the Easter Egg Roll activities, which included basketball, soccer, dance, yoga, jump rope and the centerpieces of the day, the egg roll races and egg hunt. The theme of the day was “Let’s Go Play,” designed to encourage children to lead healthy, active lives, according to the White House Web site.
The Stockard daughter, DeShayna, a third-grader at Hillpoint Elementary School, enjoyed the day, her mother said.
“She already wrote a report about it,” Renee Stockard said. Her daughter plans to give the report to her class upon return to school, and show a slide show of photos.
DeShayna’s father was almost as excited as his daughter, Renee Stockard said.
“He was excited himself,” she said of her husband.
Stockard said she was inspired by the first lady’s hospitality.
“She just came into the room and made everybody feel so at ease,” she said. “She made you actually feel welcome.”
Michelle Obama took the time to talk with each family, asking the children how they were doing in school and greeting the parents warmly, Renee Stockard said.
“That was an experience I’ll never forget,” she said.
Stockard is so grateful for her White House experience that she has decided to start giving back to her community, particularly the military families.
“I was so touched and inspired by her passion that I’m going to help my community,” Stockard said.
Stockard – who remembers well her days as a military wife trying to make ends meet – plans to begin a drive during the summer to help military parents with back-to-school expenses, particularly with clothes and shoes. With area Navy personnel having to buy new uniforms by the beginning of October, budgets already crunched by economic conditions will be squeezed even more tightly, Stockard said.
“There are a lot of single parents in the military,” she said. “This is a hard economy. I would love to give back to the community.”