Irish man Maurice Barron and his family were praised by US President Joe Biden during last night's State of the Union Address.
Barron, a native of Co Waterford who is now based in New York, his wife Kandice, and their young daughter Ava who recently recovered from cancer were welcomed by Biden during the President's State of the Union Address.
Just after Christmas 2021, Barron wrote to Biden, whose son Beau died from cancer in 2015, about Ava's cancer battle saying "Please know that your strength gave me strength and the embrace of your emotions allowed me not to feel as if I was somehow less when mine overtook me."
Soon after, Barron and his family received an invite to the White House as Biden reignited the Cancer Moonshot initiative, which sets out to "end cancer as we know it."
Barron and his family were back in Washington this week after being announced as guests of First Lady Dr. Jill Biden for the State of the Union.
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These were President Joe Biden's words to Barron and his family:
"Joining us are Maurice and Kandice, an Irishman and a daughter of immigrants from Panama.
They met and fell in love in New York City and got married in the same chapel as Jill and I got married in New York City.
He wrote us a letter about his little daughter Ava, and I saw her just before I came over.
She was just a year old when she was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease, cancer.
After 26 blood transfusions, 11 rounds of radiation, eight rounds of chemo, one kidney removed. Given a five percent survival rate.
He wrote how in the darkest moments he thought, 'If she goes, I can’t stay.' Many of you have been through that as well.
Jill and I understand that, like so many of you.
And he read Jill’s book describing our family’s cancer journey and how we tried to steal moments of joy where we could with Beau.
For them, that glimmer of joy was the half-smile of their baby girl. It meant everything to them.
They never gave up hope.
Little Ava never gave up hope. She turns 4 next month.
They just found out Ava is beating the odds is on her way to being cured of cancer, and she’s watching from the White House tonight if she’s not asleep already.
For the lives we can save — for the lives we can save and the lives we’ve lost, let this be a truly American moment that rallies the country and the world together and proves that we can still do big things.
Twenty years ago, under the leadership of President Bush and countless advocates and champions, he undertook a bipartisan effort through PEPFAR to transform the global fight against H.I.V./AIDS. It’s been a huge success. He thought big, he thought large. He moved.
I believe we can do the same thing with cancer.
Let’s end cancer as we know it. Cure some cancers once and for all.
Folks, there’s one reason why we’ve been able to do all of these things: our democracy itself.
It’s the most fundamental thing of all.
With democracy, everything is possible. Without it, nothing is."
You can watch President Joe Biden's entire State of the Union Address 2023 here: