The Ultimate #TBT: When I Introduced The President
By Marc Reifenrath on January 14, 2016 in Company News
It's not everyday that you get a call asking if you'd be willing to introduce the President of the United States. This is exactly the call I received on an otherwise normal Saturday morning this past January. I was asked if I'd be comfortable giving a brief introduction for the President when he was coming to town in a few days. President Obama was visiting to discuss what Cedar Falls as a community has accomplished by becoming one of only a few "gigabit cities" in the United States.
I received this call on January 10th and the visit was on Wednesday January 14th. I was told I was one of three potential options to do the introduction. At first I was very excited, but then I honestly figured there was no way I would actually be chosen. I heard absolutely nothing until Monday afternoon at 4 P.M. when I received a call on my cell phone from an "unavailable" number. It was the White House doing a screening/interview.
When I got off the phone I decided to write what I would say if I was chosen. I figured I would have a clear mind doing this before I was actually chosen if it actually happened. Luckily I was able to write this quickly and easily. The next morning, Tuesday the 13th, I was in our Des Moines office for several meetings. I was in our conference room talking with a few team members and they asked if I had heard anything. As I was saying "no" I received an email from the White House confirming it was me.
After the initial excitement I had a brief moment of panic. I called my contacts at Cedar Falls Utilities and went back to Cedar Falls to do a walk through that evening. I met with several members of the White House Advance Team that had been busy prepping the facilities and staging the area where President Obama would speak.
On the day of the event I arrived at CFU about two hours ahead of his arrival. I got checked in through security and was part of a small group that would get their picture taken with the President. After this picture was taken I was put in a "holding tank" right beside the stage. Right before the introduction President Obama and I were able to talk for a few minutes. This was far and above the highlight for me. I was taken back by how much he knew about Spinutech and the great questions he asked.
President Obama signed my speech, we took a few more pictures and then he asked if I was ready. Then I walked out onto the stage with around 200 people and 30 video cameras. This is the first speech where I really don't remember giving it. I walked off the stage and was escorted back to the crowd and that was it. In a flash it was all over and I can say I was extremely relieved.
What an amazing experience, regardless of your political views. This was without a doubt a once in a lifetime opportunity that any true American wouldn't pass up. It was such an honor to represent Cedar Falls and Cedar Falls Utilities for all that they have accomplished.
What would you think if the White House were to call you this Saturday?