First lady brings Valentine’s Day cheer to kids in hospital

Alex Ovechkin, Melania Trump, Amber Negrete, Annie Ribas, Katherine Faughn
First lady Melania Trump speaks with Amber Negrete, 8, right seated, during her visit to the Children's Inn at the National Institute of Health, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Bethesda, Md. Also at the table making cookies are Annie Ribas, 9, left, and Katherine Faughn, 6, center seated.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Melania Trump brought some Valentine’s Day cheer Wednesday to children receiving medical treatment at a private facility on the campus of the National Institutes of Health.

During the visit, the first lady was informed by her staff of a shooting at a South Florida high school. She later tweeted her condolences as her motorcade sped back to the White House through rush-hour traffic.

“My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers,” she wrote. A spokeswoman said she has asked for continuous updates on the shooting.

At the center, Mrs. Trump — dressed for the occasion in a belted red coat — helped one group of kids decorate heart-shaped cookies with white frosting and sprinkles. She later distributed White House holiday cards and accepted handmade ones from a larger group that included the cookie decorators.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” the first lady said as she greeted each patient, who ranged in age from 4 to 26. She asked whether they liked Children’s Inn, how they were feeling and what they liked to do.

Four-year-old Jared Rogers of Pennsylvania didn’t wait for the first lady to come to his table. He rushed toward her with a decorated Valentine’s paper gift bag and got a hug in return. Another patient gave the first lady a pair of sunglasses.

“This is very fashionable,” she said, holding them up.

Children’s Inn is a private, nonprofit facility for seriously ill children, and their families, who are participating in clinical trials at NIH.

Mrs. Trump is focusing her work as first lady on the well-being of children. She visited a children’s hospital in Cincinnati last week to get a briefing on Ohio’s opioid epidemic.

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