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Indy Special Olympics athlete gets last-minute invite to attend Obama’s final state dinner

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.- A young man from Indianapolis has just gotten home from doing something most Americans can only dream about.

Andrew Peterson is a Special Olympics long-distance runner, and last Friday he got a last-minute invitation to attend President Obama’s final state dinner. The 23-year-old had never been to a party like that one.

“I glanced my head around there (the door of the White House’s East Room) and that’s when my father said ‘Yeah, that’s President Obama,” he said.

As a long-time Special Olympics athlete, Andrew was chosen to represent that organization at Tuesday night’s state dinner honoring the prime minister of Italy. The guest he chose to bring was his dad Craig Peterson.

“Actually to be that close and that intimate with the President was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Craig.

Andrew was adopted at just six months old and suffers from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. But his gift as a long-distance runner has helped him overcome challenge after challenge—getting through school, finishing miles-long races, and now, shaking hands with a president.

“It was an actual honor that they had a Special Olympian athlete come out and meet him [Obama] in person though,” said Andrew.

“After President Obama spoke to Andrew, he then said, 'Good job dad,' and so that was a very special moment,” said Craig.

Dad and son both say it was an evening where moment after moment brought memories they won’t ever forget. But for these Hoosiers who went to Washington, it was about more than just the majesty of a state dinner.

“We knew Andrew’s invitation was not just about him, but as a representation of all those individuals who have intellectual disabilities,” said Craig. “We felt a real responsibility to showcase the thousands of families that they matter too and their families have a voice.”

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