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Councilmember Donnell, wife invited to the White House to meet president

By Staff | Dec 5, 2012

For one local couple, their 20th anniversary will be one to remember.

Cape Coral City Councilmember Derrick Donnell and his wife, Sherri, have been invited to a holiday reception and an executive briefing session at the White House on Friday. Wednesday marks the couple’s 20th anniversary.

“We’re humbled,” Donnell said. “God is good. It was a blessing.”

He and his wife are very excited about the opportunity.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Donnell said.

About two weeks ago, Donnell was home checking his e-mail when he came across an invitation to the reception. Thinking it was some kind of a joke, he deleted the e-mail. Days later, they received the official invitation by mail.

Donnell recognized the seal on the envelop immediately.

“The only thing that makes sense to me is that we worked and volunteered some time on his re-election campaign,” he said of the invite.

Donnell added that their names must have been chosen from a pool.

The reception will run from 2 to 5 p.m.

Earlier this week, Donnell was contacted about attending an executive briefing session from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Eisenhower Room.

“I’m anticipating that the president will have his staffers there to ask questions about what the common folk think about the issues,” he said.

Talking about the Cape and infrastructure are priorities for him.

“One of the things we’re working hard on in the city is getting our name out there,” Donnell said.

He referred to the Veterans Investment Zone, with the new Lee County Veterans Affairs Healthcare Center and future Army Reserve Center.

“It’s ripe for development for jobs and businesses,” Donnell said.

He would also like to see more funding directed at states where there are projects set to go, like the Cape’s utilities expansion and SR 78 widening.

“It’s just wide open,” Donnell said, of the topics on the table.

He and his wife are paying for their travel and hotel accommodations.

“It’s a down side, but it’s an up side – it’s not on the taxpayers’ dollars,” Donnell said.

This will be their second opportunity to meet the president.

When President Barack Obama made a campaign stop at the Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers, they were going to have their picture taken with him, but the opportunity was cut short due to the shootings in Colorado.

“He was nice enough to come up and shake our hand,” Donnell said.

With their anniversary only days away from Friday’s events, the couple plan to roll the trip into the weekend and celebrate their 20 years of marriage.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I just look forward to coming back and being able to share some details.”