By Dana Glaser
Marni ’09 and Berni ’10 Barta were among the first to greet President George W. BushÂ Wednesday as he alighted fromÂ Air ForceÂ One at Los Angeles International Airport.Â âHello girls, how are you?â he said to the girlsÂ who were standing with CaliforniaÂ Governor Arnold SchwarzzenegerÂ and a group of about 50 people.Â The Barta sisters were chosen to greet President Bush as recipients of the âPresidentâs Volunteer Service Awardâ in recognition of their organization, Kid Flicks, which donates âmovie librariesâ to childrenâs hospitals and pediatric centers across the country. The sisters have donated 28,600 movies to 286 hospitals in all 50 states since they founded the organization with their elder sisters, Lexi Barta â03 and Romi Bartaâ06.
The sisters each received a pin engraved with the words âThe Presidentâs call to service,â and posed for a photo with the President under the seal. After the Bushâs departure they were taken on a private tour of Air Force One by Pilot Mark Tillman, which included a visit to the Presidential quarters, the conference room, the hospital operating rooms, the press rooms, and the cockpit.
âIt was unbelievable,â said Berni, âIt was like a house inside a plane.â
The BartasÂ were contacted to greet the President last spring, but could not accept the offer because they were out of town. Last Friday Marni received a surprise call from a White House representative while she was at lunch with friends celebrating the end of midterms.
âThey first contacted us without us ever having contacted them,â she said. âAt first you think itâs a joke to be standing there as a 17-year old on the phone with the White House.â
The family was asked to keep the honor confidential until Monday, when news of President Bushâs visit to Los Angeles would be released to the press. After its release they were contacted by KSWB radio station, Telemundo, a Spanish-speaking television station and later by the Los Angeles Times.