Watch CBS News

New Yorkers who have overcome adversity will be at President Biden's State of the Union

Child from Manhattan, woman from Queens invited guests at SOTU
Child from Manhattan, woman from Queens invited guests at SOTU 02:25

NEW YORK -- The Big Apple will be in the house at Tuesday night's State of the Union Address.

A young cancer survivor from Hell's Kitchen and a woman from Queens whose home was destroyed during the remnants of Hurricane Ida are both invited guests.

CBS2 spoke with them about the significance of being there.

READ MORESome of the notable guests attending Biden's State of the Union address

The cutest guest at President Joe Biden's address will undoubtedly be 3-year-old Ava Barron of Hell's Kitchen.

"She knows it's Joe's house. We walked past the White House today and she said 'Joe's house.' She knows the first lady is Dr. Jill," Maurice Barron said.

At only a year old, ava was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer and had an 8% chance of survival. Her dad wrote to President Biden as a form of coping through his little girl's grueling chemotherapy treatment.

"He had said 'to give up would be unforgivable,' which really helped me with resolve during the dark phase. And the first lady had this wonderful phrase: "You have to steal moments of joy no matter where they are."

The first lady invited the Barrons to sit with her during Tuesday night's address, as she continues to push her platform fighting cancer.

Ava Barron is now in remission, a medical miracle, and ready to take Washington by storm.

"To go from sending a letter to someone you've never met to now have Ava at the White House to going to the State of the Union, it's something that only happens in America," Maurice Barron said.

For Allison Sesso, the invitation represents a silver lining to an otherwise catastrophic ordeal.

"There was 14 feet of water in my home. I had just moved in two weeks before -- just bought the home. It was a lot," Sesso said.

When Ida hit Forest Hills in 2021, Sesso lost everything. CBS2 caught up with her on her way to D.C., where her presence at the State of the Union will hopefully shine a light on the need for better infrastructure.

"I'm excited to go. I wish my house didn't have to get destroyed to get the invitation and I hope the infrastructure changes we're trying to bring attention to actually happen in Queens," Sesso said.

Congresswoman Grace Meng chose Sesso as part of her ongoing push to improve sewers and catch basins in Queens so they can more adequately handle excessive rainfall. Sesso and Barron said they hope their moment in the spotlight will serve to highlight the changes they believe this country needs.

For more information about the State of the Union, including how to watch, CLICK HERE

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.