When President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday before a joint session of Congress, one of his guests was a woman who grew up in Dayton who is in recovery from addiction to opioids.
Ashley Evans, who now lives in an apartment in Columbus, was among the 11 guests of First Lady Melania Trump who watched the speech from the first lady’s box in the ornamental U.S. House chamber.
“This has been my dream is to give hope to people and this is exactly what I am doing by being here,” Evans told Cox TV in Washington.
She a whirlwind day even before Trump began speaking. Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday she met Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen in the vice president’s office in the Executive Office Building next to the White House.
“He thanked me for coming and I told him that I was honored to be there and excited to be here,” Evans said in a separate interview with the Daily News. “His wife said something along the lines that she was very proud of me and I am a shining star.”
She also was publicly praised by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, both of whom have met Evans.
Evans became addicted to pain killers after she was prescribed a pain medicine for an ankle injury. After the birth of her daughter Olivia last year, she entered a rehabilitation program while Olivia was cared for by Brigid’s Path, a facility in Kettering that focuses on babies born dependent on opioids.
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Her journey to Washington essentially began last March when U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar met with her during a visit to Dayton.
“I told him my story,” she said in an interview with Cox TV in Washington. “He was touched by it and he put my name in to be able to come.”
A week ago, the White House called her at her new apartment in Columbus and invited her to attend the speech. Evans said she was “shocked” and “started pacing the floors” after the call.
On February 15, Evans will finally re-unite with Olivia, who she has visited as often as four times every week.
“It’s been a long year,” she told Cox TV. “A lot of hard work. But it’s paid off. I am so excited to get her, to be a mom and just enjoy my time to her.”