By Jake Bolitho
Muskegon native Michael Twining with President Obama at the Fisher House in Hines, Ill. Fisher House serves as a temporary residence for members of the military as they undergo medical treatment. Twining, 31, a U.S. Army sergeant, recently returned from overseas, where he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Twining is an Orchard View High School graduate.
CHICAGO -- When Muskegon native Michael Twining heard he would be paid a visit by someone from the White House, he wondered if there was actually a realistic chance of it being the "top guy."
Sure enough, it was President Barack Obama that Twining, his wife and twin daughters met on Memorial Day, a week before Obama arrived at Kalamazoo Central High School to deliver a commencement speech.
Obama visited Twining at Fisher House, in Hines, Ill. It serves as a temporary residence for members of the military as they undergo medical treatment.
The 31-year-old Muskegon native and U.S. Army sergeant recently returned from overseas, where he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Twining is an Orchard View High School graduate.
He arrived home amid great excitement from his family, but it wasn't long before doctors discovered a tumor in his brain.
So far, Twining has received five surgeries and will soon undergo radiation treatment.
"It was good to meet him," Twining said. "It wasn't like when you see him on TV. He was more direct in person. He was more thorough."
President Barack Obama offers a high-five to Talor and Talon Twining, the 4-year-old identical twins of Michael and Kristin Twining.
Twining's wife Kristin and their 4-year-old identical twins Talor and Talon are also staying at the Chicago-area facility while Michael undergoes medical treatments.
"It was such an honor. The press is getting down on (Obama) for not going to the Arlington Memorial Day Ceremony," Kristin Twining said. "He just wanted to be there for other soldiers."
The Twining family was the first group of people Obama spoke to on his arrival. The president shook their hands, spoke with them over lunch and thanked Michael for his 12 years of Army service.
Holly Wright, manager of the Fisher House, said they were contacted by White House staff about the event, but chose not to disclose to residents that it was the president himself who was coming.
Obama donated $250,000 of his Nobel Peace Prize winnings to the 45 Fisher Houses located across the country.
"It really was a great gesture for him to do that," Wright said.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski