By Kate Bennett
WASHINGTON (CNN) — First lady Melania Trump spent part of her Valentine’s Day visiting sick children at National Institutes of Health’s Children’s Inn in Bethesda, Maryland. Trump, who last week toured Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, spent time with kids suffering from illnesses, decorated cookies and exchanged Valentine’s cards with about 20 patients Wednesday afternoon.
Trump arrived at Children’s Inn, a specialty residence facility where seriously ill children and their families stay while the kids participate in clinical trials and treatments at NIH, dressed in a bright red, belted Calvin Klein coat. She quickly prepared to jump in with frosting and sprinkles for the heart-shaped cookies being decorated by kids ages 4 to 11, who suffer from a variety of rare illnesses.
“Do you like to play and run around with your friends?” the first lady asked of Lucy Wiese, a 9-year-old from Virginia who has a rare immunodeficiency disease and has already made 29 visits to Children’s Inn in her short life. Lucy nodded.
After several minutes of cookie time, Trump visited a nearby classroom area where more children, joined by the cookie-decorating crew, mingled and made Valentine’s cards with their fellow patients. Some of the older patients, in their early 20s, had been coming to Children’s Inn since they were much younger.
“You look beautiful,” Trump said to 23-year-old Christine Moister, who was wearing a vibrant pink sweater. Moister smiled back. She suffers from Niemann-Pick disease type C, which is also referred to as children’s Alzheimer’s.
The first lady stood close to Moister, chatting with her and accepting a Valentine’s card, which she put into a decorated brown paper bag.
“I brought you some presents, too,” said Trump, who moved through the room full of young patients, smiling and bestowing compliments like, “You look good! And strong!” and expressing thanks for the gifts the kids gave her.
Trump walked from table to table, handing out White House Valentine’s Day cards printed with red and pink hearts.
One young man gave the first lady a pair of black Children’s Inn sunglasses, to which Trump, often seen in oversized shades, exclaimed, “This is very fashionable. I love sunglasses.”
Toward the end of her time with the kids, Trump was given a canvas painting of a colorful heart, with the words “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mrs. Trump.”
“I will treasure all of this,” said the first lady, clearly moved by the gesture. Her new friend, Lucy, rushed in for a hug.
While the media was ushered out of the facility, news was breaking about the shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. As Trump’s motorcade sped off, back to the White House, a tweet was posted from her official @FLOTUS account, stating, “My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers.”
Earlier this week, Trump co-hosted a public White House event with President Donald Trump, their first together there since the holidays. The first couple met with invited guests for a Tuesday afternoon reception celebrating Black History Month, and although Melania Trump did not make remarks, she stood beside the President as he delivered a short speech from the podium of the East Room.
The Trumps were spotted together during a private dinner on Saturday night at the steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, and the previous weekend they served as co-hosts at an invitation-only Super Bowl party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
The movements of the President and first lady are under particular scrutiny as details about his alleged 2006 affair and an admitted payment of $130,000 to a pornographic film actress by Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, remain in the headlines more than a month after details of the story first broke.
As for whether the first couple had any Valentine’s Day plans of their own Wednesday evening, CNN reached out to the first lady’s communications office and did not hear back.
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