Bay Area residents travel to DC for inauguration

January 17, 2013 6:59:58 PM PST
Some Bay Area residents are playing a big part in the president's inauguration. One of them is an honorary co-chair. Another will be running all the social media sites for the joint military coalition protecting the president.

Out of the 300 million in the entire country, there are eight civilians who have been invited to be co-chairs of the inauguration. A young San Francisco woman is one of them.

Four years ago, Erica Chain volunteered to work for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Two years later, she says President Obama's health care legislation saved her life.

"So I was actually diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor," Chain said. In fact, she fell into a coma.

An Obama campaign video shows that every insurance company she contacted denied her coverage because her tumor was a pre-existing condition. Doctors said she had to have an operation she couldn't afford. And then the president's health care bill kicked in. She was able to apply for coverage, and then got the operation that saved her life.

"And I have made a 100 percent full recovery," Chain said. "And Dr. Lawton and his Neuro-ICU team at UCSF saved my life. I'm now a fully functional member of society, a contributing member. I'm working." In fact, she's working two jobs -- one at a bank and the other at Rock Health, helping health care startups. And now she's heading to D.C. to attend the president's inauguration as one of eight honorary citizen co-chairs. And as one of the co-chairs, it's a pretty good bet she's going to get a chance to thank the president personally," I hope to, I'd like to meet Michelle Obama," Chair said. "Yeah, I hope to."

Jazz pianist Ricardo Scales is going to taking a break from his gig at the Top of the Mark to be at the inauguration. He's played for presidents several times, but this will be the first time he has gone to an inauguration.

"Being black and having an Afro-American president, it's an honor to play for him so it's an honor that he's there, "Scales said.

Scales doesn't know yet if he'll actually be able to play for the president, but Congresswoman Barbara Lee got him the tickets.

In Milpitas, Abdul Banafa wrote his own ticket, in a manner of speaking. The Mission College student is packing to fly to DC Friday after winning an essay contest hosted by Congressman Mike Honda.

"I said make the government over here, like the local government, more accessible to like the younger crowd," Banafa said. Congressman Honda liked the idea enough to send him two tickets.

For those who won't be going in person, another Bay Area resident will be in charge of running Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Pinterest pages for the inauguration.

Navy Chief Communications Specialist Elizabeth Thompson of Walnut Creek talked with us Thursday via satellite from DC, "And we just launched an iPhone app, so that will hopefully be live streaming during the inauguration."

Four years ago, you might remember thousands of people were misdirected and caught in security holds. Some never saw the inauguration. This time a phone app will show color coded directions to the quarter of million ticket holders expected on Washington Mall.

The official swearing-in, as prescribed by the constitution, is January 20. The big parade and the ceremony on the steps of the capitol will be Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.


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