Dave Vrbas

Dave Vrbas and his 9-year-old son Jack pose Sunday with their tickets to the president’s speech in Omaha. Jack is a third-grader at Hill Elementary in Lincoln. “When I posted the pic on Facebook, his principal liked it, so I assume she's OK with him being absent,” Vrbas said.

Courtesy photo

A Lincoln woman's fight against gun violence scored her a personal invitation to greet President Barack Obama in Omaha on Wednesday.

Amanda Gailey, associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is among 10 members of the group Nebraskans Against Gun Violence who will attend the president's speech at the White House's invitation. She is the only one who will also get a chance to meet Obama in the greeting line outside Baxter Arena.

About 8,000 people are expected to attend the president's speech. Doors open at 1 p.m., and all available tickets have been claimed.

The president will arrive at Offutt at 2 p.m., the White House announced Tuesday night.

Obama's UNO speech is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. The president will hold a living room discussion with a family in the Omaha area prior to his public appearance, the White House said.

 "I think it's just wonderful that Obama has made this a policy priority," Gailey said Tuesday. "I hope that it results in bringing this issue to the forefront of the political conversation in our state as the legislative session begins."

Nebraskans Against Gun Violence supports restrictions on who can access "dangerous weapons" and measures that promote safe storage of firearms.

Obama's recent decision to broaden the group of gun sellers who are required to conduct background checks was "really important mostly because they have put the issue forward as a major policy point," Gailey said.

Family members of Kerrie Orozco, the Omaha police officer killed last year, also plan to meet with Obama during his visit.

"We don't know many of the details," said Kristin Fearnow, attorney for Orozco's husband, Hector.

He and his three children intend to meet the president together, and Hector Orozco will give him a letter urging him to support the Kerrie Orozco Act, a proposal by Nebraska Congressman Brad Ashford that would expedite the citizenship process for spouses of first responders killed on the job.

Orozco also will express disappointment about the sentence — one year of probation — given to the Georgia woman who bought the gun used to kill Kerrie Orozco in May, Fearnow said.

Lt. Gov. Mike Foley and a handful of state senators will attend Obama's speech, including Lincoln Sen. Adam Morfeld and Omaha Sens. Tanya Cook and Heath Mello. The Legislature will adjourn at noon to accommodate the president's visit.

Dave Vrbas and his son, Jack, will also attend. Jack, 9, a third-grader at Lincoln's Hill Elementary, convinced the stay-at-home dad to drive to Omaha Sunday for tickets.

"Going was completely his idea," Vrbas said in a Facebook message. "I mentioned that Obama was going to be there, and he was adamant about going."

The pair snapped a selfie holding their tickets outside the arena.

"When I posted the pic on Facebook, his principal liked it, so I assume she's OK with him being absent," Vrbas said.

Meanwhile, a coalition of labor, farm and clean energy groups announced plans to demonstrate in opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific trade agreement outside Baxter Arena.

Included in the group will be representatives of the Nebraska AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America, Nebraska Farmers Union and Bold Nebraska.

Reporter Don Walton contributed to this story.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7234 or zpluhacek@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @zachamiLJS.


Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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