Ask Aidan Lamothe what the best part of his visit to the White House was on Thursday, and there’s no hesitation in his answer.
President Barack Obama and Aidan Lamothe, the 2014 March of Dimes Ambassador, finish off a fist bump during a visit by Aidan and his family in the Oval Office on Thursday. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Standing at the podium in the official White House press pool? No sir. Fist-bumping the leader of the free world in the Oval Office? Not quite.
“I liked meeting his dogs,” said Lamothe. “That was cool.”
Aidan, 6, of Manchester, is the 2014 March of Dimes National Ambassador. As such, he and his parents, Jill Teeters, a marketing coordinator, and David Lamothe, a civil engineer, travel the country, compliments of United Airlines, to raise awareness of the need for research and community programs to prevent premature birth and birth defects.
On Thursday, the family traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House and meet with President Obama. Jill said Aidan discussed his duties as ambassador with the President, while she discussed the importance of the research.
“It was amazing,” said Teeters, in a phone interview from Washington. “We went through security, and then were led through the White House to the Oval Office. Then President Obama himself opened the doors and came out to meet us. When I think back to the day Aidan was born, and everything we were feeling in the hospital, it’s hard to believe that six years later he just met the President.”
According to Jill, the first 28 weeks of her pregnancy with Aidan was uneventful. In the 29th week she felt unwell and was hospitalized as a precaution. Less than 24 hours later, Jill went into labor, and would undergo an emergency C-section. Aidan was born at 28 weeks and five days of pregnancy, weighing three pounds and measuring just 16 inches long. He was rushed to Elliot Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where he spent the first seven weeks of his life being treated for breathing problems, his low birth weight, and other premature-birth related issues.
Today, Teeters reports Aidan is a happy, energetic, engaged and loving six-year-old. He enjoys being outdoors, playing baseball, practicing the piano, and doing gymnastics, and he loves Lego — and meeting the four-legged members of the First Family, Sunny and Bo.
“Aidan was talking with the President, and he motioned that he wanted to tell me something,” said Jill. “So I knelt down, and then the President knelt down, and he said he wished he could meet the dogs. So they brought us to the Roosevelt Room, and a staff member went and brought the dogs to us.”
According to Teeters, since being named ambassador in January the Lamothes have made over 100 visits in 16 states — covering over 25,000 miles representing the March of Dimes. All travel is provided compliments of United Airlines.
“It’s been quite a whirlwind,” said Teeters.
Aidan attends kindergarten at Mount St. Mary Academy in Manchester, and Jill said staff there have been supportive as he carries out his duties.
“Our travels are often during the week, so we work with Aidan’s teacher to get his school assignments in advance,” said Teeters. “Aidan is able to do his worksheets, reading and other projects ‘on the road’ under my supervision. He is also chronicling his adventures in his school journal.”
Jill and her family had a connection to the March of Dimes — and its original mission to combat polio — long before Aidan was born. David’s uncle contracted polio as a child, and has been in a wheelchair for most of his life as a result. Jill’s father was known as a “polio pioneer,” one of the first children to receive the Salk polio vaccine in 1955. Teeters said the March of Dimes funded the development of the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines. Today, a majority of babies are vaccinated against polio, which has helped to all-but eradicate the disease in the U.S. and most of the world.
“We’ve seen first-hand the devastating effects of polio; we know the importance of prevention and we know the March of Dimes history of success,” said Jill. “We also know the impact of preterm birth and are thrilled to support the work the March of Dimes is doing today to help women have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.”
On Friday, Aidan and his family received a private tour of the White House. Today they are expected to take part in the Washington, D.C., March for Babies, then return to Manchester Sunday.
Those interested in following Aidan’s adventures as national ambassador can do so by visiting www.facebook.com/marchofdimesnationalambassador. Aidan’s personal fundraising page for the March of Dimes is www.marchforbabies.org/adlamothe.