Twelve-year-old thrilled to get tickets

Rachel Gallagher will get her wish to see President-elect Barack Obama sworn in on Tuesday, thanks in part to the 12-year-old’s persistence. The seventh-grader at East Middle School repeatedly called her local leaders who offered her two tickets after someone else was unable to attend.

Rachel Gallagher worked too hard this past political season to watch slip away her dream of witnessing her candidate, President-elect Barack Obama, take the nation’s helm at the inauguration ceremony Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

So when the 12-year-old, a seventh-grader at East Middle School, learned by phone late
Thursday afternoon that she had secured two tickets, she burst into tears.

“I was so shocked and happy,” she said at school Friday.

Rachel topped a calling record at Grand Junction’s Obama headquarters during the election season, though those on the phone’s other end scarcely knew the caller wasn’t anywhere near voting age, not even yet a teenager.

She volunteered after school and on weekends to stuff letters, wave political signs and talk up her candidate at any chance she got to anyone who listened.

After Rachel gleefully watched Obama win the election, she wrote letters and called senators and representatives, seeking inauguration tickets.

Sen. Ken Salazar’s office told her the names of 10,000 people who requested tickets were placed in a drawing for the office’s 200 tickets. Rachel’s name was not picked.

“I was really disappointed,” she recalled. “It was something I really wanted to do.”

But her persistence paid off, and Rachel continued to call local leaders, letting them know she still wanted tickets.

A representative at Salazar’s office saved Rachel’s voice-mail message, and when two tickets were returned to the office, Gallagher’s name was next on their list.

Rachel’s mother, Christine, spent most of Thursday night trying to find reasonably priced airline tickets.

“I said, ‘We’ll get them,’” Christine said. “You don’t pass up a lifetime opportunity like this.”

Rachel and her dad, Gordon, will stay in D.C. with one of Christine’s cousins.

She said she won’t mind a bit waking at 4 a.m. today to catch a plane nor doing some extra credit in social studies to make up for lost time from school.

Rachel said her tickets will have her and her dad situated by the Reflecting Pool, which should be a prime location for the ceremonies.

They plan to take in the sights, too, during the whirlwind trip.

“I might be sort of dead in class on Wednesday,” Gallagher said, with a smile.


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