Boy With Cerebral Palsy Meets Obama, a Day After He Was Reportedly Kicked Out of Trump Rally
A 12-year-old Florida boy with cerebral palsy got to meet one of his idols — President Obama — a day after the boy and his family were allegedly kicked out of a Donald Trump rally for protesting the GOP nominee.
Since he saw Trump mock a reporter with a disability during one of his rallies, JJ Holmes had long hoped to make it to such a gathering to show the presidential hopeful what he thought of him, the boy and his mother told The Washington Post.
“I wanted to go because Donald J. Trump made fun of disabled people,” JJ said through a computer vocalization device in a video statement to the paper.
JJ’s wish was granted Saturday when his mother, Alison Holmes, woke him at 3 a.m. to drive two hours from their Longwood home to Tampa, where the boy used his vocalization device to voice his disdain for Trump.
The real estate mogul’s supporters drowned out JJ as he chanted “Dump Trump” and “Trump mocks the disabled,” which Trump allegedly laughed at, Holmes told the newspaper.
“So my daughters and I started chanting,” she said.
In response, the crowd started chanting “USA! USA!” and began to push JJ’s wheelchair, as nearby Trump supporters called Holmes a “child abuser” and yelled to "grab her p****," Holmes said.
JJ and his family were escorted out of the arena.
Trump allegedly spoke from the stage, saying “Oh, we have a Hillary Clinton person. Are they paying that person $1,500? Get him out, please. Get him out.”
InsideEdition.com has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.
JJ’s experience caught the attention of a reporter covering the rally, who learned that the politically-minded boy hoped to one day meet Obama.
The reporter called Valentina Pereda, Florida press secretary for the Hillary Clinton campaign and who used to be the White House deputy director for Hispanic media, and told her what happened, Pereda recalled on social media.
“While I'm listening to this story, I freeze — first in disbelief and, next, feeling utterly helpless. What the hell could I do to make this child even slightly forget that experience? I'm a nobody!” she wrote in a Facebook post.
But she and her colleague, Angela Johnson, set out to get JJ as close to the rope line at a Democratic event Sunday in Kissimmee, where Obama was stumping for Hillary Clinton. Resolute on trying to get JJ at least some form of contact with Obama, Pereda reached out to a friend who she said traveled with the President.
“I point to him where in the VIP area JJ is sitting with the hope that when POTUS would work the ropeline, he'd somehow remember JJ's story and spend two extra seconds with him,” she wrote. “And with that, I was satisfied with was to be accomplished. A handshake.”
But instead, Pereda was able to secure much more for JJ.
“Shortly after, colleagues begin to frantically text and call me to tell me my friend from the WH was looking for me,” she wrote. “I sprint about half a mile back into the stadium and push my way through angry Secret Service agents and thick crowds. I finally spot my friend who, once again, asks me to point out where the boy is sitting, which I do. Then - out of the blue - I tell him, ‘well, how about I wheel him out of the VIP area and bring him around?’ My friend thinks about it for a second, looks around for other accomplices, and nods his head with approval.”
When told he would not only get a glimpse of the president, but would actually meet him, JJ was overjoyed.
“JJ jumps out of his seat and erupts into cheer... his smile almost bursting out of his face. His body overcome by light, when just the day before it almost succumbed to hate,” Pereda wrote. “My lesson: Always have the courage to do what feels right. The universe will always conspire.”
Obama met with JJ, speaking with him and posing for pictures that left the boy delighted, Pereda and Holmes said.
JJ’s mother told the Post that her son told Obama that he loved him, thanked him for the handshake and asked him, “can you vote?”
“He wanted to make sure he could vote for Hillary Clinton,” she said.