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Tucson hero among speech guests

/ Source: staff and news service reports

An intern who cared for Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head and the family of a 9-year-old girl who was the youngest of six people killed in the same shooting are among more than 20 people scheduled to sit with first lady Michelle Obama for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, was invited but not expected to join them as he will remain in Houston where he is based and where his wife is receiving medical care.

Giffords and 18 others were shot at a meet-and-greet the congresswoman was holding for constituents outside a grocery store in Tucson. A federal judge, a Giffords aide and 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green and three others were killed. Thirteen others were wounded.

The man being held in the shootings, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges of attempting to kill Giffords and two of her aides.

Intern Daniel Hernandez was hailed as a hero after the shooting. The 20-year-old University of Arizona student rushed to her side and applied pressure to her wounds until medical personnel arrived.

When he spoke Jan. 12 at a national televised memorial service in Tucson, Hernandez pointedly shunned the hero label. But Obama, who followed him to the microphone, politely disagreed and assured Hernandez that he was, in fact, a hero.

Hernandez sat next to Obama during the service. Kelly also attended the memorial and sat beside Mrs. Obama.

Hernandez, John and Roxanna Green and their son, Dallas, and Giffords' trauma surgeon, Peter Rhee, a Navy veteran and military surgeon who is chief of trauma at the University Medical Center in Tucson, also sat with the first lady.

Among her other scheduled guests, according to the White House and The Associated Press:

Gary and Robert Allen of Rochester Hills, Mich. Their family business, Allen Brothers Inc., with the help of $500,000 from the Recovery Act, retooled half of their manufacturing facility in order to manufacture solar shingles and launch a whole new business, Luma Resources.

Ursula M. Burns, chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation, who was named by the president to help lead the White House national campaign on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in November 2009. She is on the board of Change the Equation, a coalition of over 100 CEOs focused on STEM education that the President announced in September 2010. She was appointed vice chair of the president’s Export Council in March 2010.

Amy Chyao, 16, of Richardson, Texas, is a Plano East junior interested in cancer treatment and also is a second-chair cello player. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I appreciate the gesture he made in inviting me," Chyao said of attending the speech. "I'm just hoping that ill remember my name and stuff," she said. Chyao met the president in the fall when she won an international science and engineering fair. She presented her design for a cancer-treating photosensitizer to Obama himself. Photodynamic therapy (PDT), is an emerging cancer treatment which uses light energy to activate a drug that kills cancer cells.

Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis received a $250,000 Recovery Act Small Business Administration loan to realize of their dream of opening an organic, homemade ice cream shop in Santa Cruz, Calif. They were so excited they posted a YouTube video thanking the government for its help. That video got Vice President Joe Biden excited and he told them in November he was coming to try some ice cream after seeing the "damn good" video. Penny Ice Creamery opened four months ago and now employs 11 people.

Brandon and Julie Fisher of Berlin, Penn., run Center Rock, which specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. Last summer, Center Rock manufactured the drill bits and other equipment used to find and rescue 33 trapped Chilean miners.

Brandon Ford, a junior at West Philadelphia High School, is a leader of the West Philly Hybrid X Team, which entered two cars in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition, a global challenge that sought to deliver production-ready highly fuel efficient vehicles. As high school students, they successfully competed with corporations, universities and other well-funded organizations to advance to an elimination round with their Ford Focus that got an official 65.1 MPGe.

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta of Hiawatha, Iowa, in November 2010 was awarded the Medal of Honor by the president for conspicuous gallantry for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan in October 2007. Giunta is assigned to 2-503rd Infantry Battalion, Rear Detachment, Camp Ederle, Italy, completed two combat tours to Afghanistan totaling 27 months of deployment.

Jim Houser, who with his wife runs an auto repair shop in Portland, Ore., under the health-care reform law, receives tax credits saving him over $10,000 so he can provide health insurance to his employees.

James Howard of Katy, Texas, was diagnosed with brain cancer in March and was able to join a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan under the health-care reform law.

Staff Sgt. Brian Mast and Brianna Mast and their son, Magnum, of Washington, D.C., met the Bidens at a Thanksgiving dinner for military families that the Bidens hosted at the Vice President’s Residence in November 2010. Brian Mast lost both of his legs below the knee and suffered other wounds from a roadside bomb on Sept. 19, 2010.

Gunnery Sgt. Nicole Mohabir of Fort Lee, Va., a Marine since 1991, made her first deployment to Iraq in December 2002 and second in 2004. She was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and is back at her duty station in Fort Lee.

Mikayla Nelson is a freshman at Central Catholic High School in Billings, Mont. As a middle schooler at Will James Middle School, she led her Science Bowl team to a 1st place finish at the National Science Bowl for the design document of their solar car. She met the president at the October 2010 White House Science Fair.

Kathy Proctor of Winston-Salem, N.C., was workin in the furniture industry when about six years ago, she started taking math and English classes at night and on weekends. When she was laid off in 2009, Proctor began taking classes in biotechnology at Forsyth Technical Community College and will graduate in July. She met the president when he visited Forsyth Tech in early December 2010.

Diego Vasquez, a freshman at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona, was a member of the 12-person team from Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen, Ariz., that won a grant through the Lemelson-MIT Program’s InvenTeams initiative for their design of a fully adjustable motorized chair for medically fragile individuals. Diego met the president at the October 2010 White House Science Fair.

Wendell P. Weeks, chairman and chief executive officer of Corning Inc.

Besides the president's guests, each senator is may invite a guest.

Karen Eckert, whose sister Beverly Eckert died in the crash of Flight 3407 near Buffalo in 2009, was scheduled to attend the speech as a guest of Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.