WASHINGTON – An Indiana woman who lost both legs shielding her children from a tornado walked arm-in-arm with President Barack Obama into the Oval Office on Friday.
The visit by Stephanie Decker came just under four months after the twister wrecked her home in Henryville, Ind. She had tied a blanket around the children and thrown herself on top of them when falling debris crushed her legs.
"We planned this a few months out, and here we are," Decker said in an interview after the 15-minute visit.
When not using a wheelchair, Decker, 37, is able to walk for extended periods using prosthetic limbs. She said her goal is to be able to spend eight to 10 hours a day on those limbs. "I'm a pretty active person," she said.
Decker was joined by her son Dominic, 9, daughter Reese, 6, and husband Joe, 42, for the Oval Office visit, which came just before Obama flew to Colorado to view damage from the state's wildfires.
It followed a handwritten letter from Obama and a follow-up phone call from the president while she was in the hospital.
Decker said on Friday she and Obama discussed an improved prosthetic model being developed by the military, and a foundation she and her husband started that trains children with artificial limbs to play sports.
Decker said the rebuilding in Indiana has been slow, but her White House visit will be an encouragement. "To have the president know and (take) the time to talk to us, it gives us motivation," she said.