On Wednesday, Burke will join 250 Olympic and Paralympic athletes as they are honored by the Obamas for their performance in the Vancouver games. That means, while you are selling your soul for pennies on the dollar, Burke will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn and homegrown Olympians Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark.
Burke found out last Tuesday that she had been invited to the event when she opened her email and saw a note from the White House requesting her presence. "I said, 'OK, cool. I'm going to the White House,'" Burke said in a phone interview today.
She suspects she received the invitation because she was one of six adaptive sports program leaders selected to attend the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics. She spent 13 days on Canada's west coast watching just about every type of sport.
Burke, who leaves today for Washington, D.C., said that, while she was thrilled to get an invite to the Prez's pad, she has been stressed about what she's going to wear. "I had to find an outfit, which was really tough because I'm a Carhartt kind of girl," she said. Thankfully, Patagonia makes passable dressy clothes, so Burke picked up a frock and is hoping for the best.
While meeting Barry O. is cool and all, Burke is most excited about the exposure this event will give Vermont Adaptive, which operates statewide, year-round athletic programs for people with disabilities. Burke is trying to set up meetings with Vermont's congressional delegation while she's in D.C. to promote the organization and hopefully get some folks to open their wallets (or other people's wallets).
Burke said the nonprofit's summer programs in Burlington, including sailing, cycling and rock climbing, are near capacity, and it needs some help growing its fleet of adaptive equipment. One tandem recumbent bicycle could run the organization $5000.
Personally, I think Burke should ask Obama for 50 large for the bike. He's got plenty of cash. But that's just me.