May 21, 2018
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Cushing family meets Michelle Obama

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jennifer Benner and her family had planned a whirlwind two-week excursion from Maine to Florida and back.

The Cushing family, however, got what Jennifer Benner said was a very exciting surprise when they met first lady Michelle Obama at the White House on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 16.

Benner, her daughter Casey Benner, sister Sarah Jones, nephew Zach Jones and stepmother Alyson Jones were in the middle of a tour of the White House — arranged by Maine’s 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree — when the first lady came out and greeted the members of the tour group.

“Yes, yes, it was very exciting. I thought it would be cool to see the White House and then the first lady appeared,” Benner said by telephone from the nation’s capital.

They talked about Maine and Obama mentioned how she enjoyed her family’s visit to the state last year.

The trip also was a birthday present for Casey and Zach, 13-year-olds who are seventh-grade students at Thomaston Grammar School in Thomaston. The first lady gave the youths high-fives, Benner said.

Visitors are not allowed to take photographs while in the White House but staff at the White House told the family that photographs and videos will be posted to

Jennifer Benner said she is a supporter of President Obama and the first lady.

A news release from Pingree’s office notes that the congresswoman is happy to arrange tours of the White House and U.S. Capitol. The Web page for a tour is

The Benners had visited the Capitol building and the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing on Wednesday.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified which children were celebrating their 13th birthdays. It was Casey and Zach, not Casey and Sarah.

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