During the visit, the first lady was informed by her staff of a shooting at a South Florida high school. She later tweeted her condolences as her motorcade sped back to the White House through rush-hour traffic.
“My heart is heavy over the school shooting in Florida. Keeping all affected in my thoughts & prayers,” she wrote. A spokeswoman said she has asked for continuous updates on the shooting.
At the center, Mrs. Trump — dressed for the occasion in a belted red coat — helped one group of kids decorate heart-shaped cookies with white frosting and sprinkles. She later distributed White House holiday cards and accepted handmade ones from a larger group that included the cookie decorators.
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“Happy Valentine’s Day,” the first lady said as she greeted each patient, who ranged in age from 4 to 26. She asked whether they liked Children’s Inn, how they were feeling and what they liked to do.
Four-year-old Jared Rogers of Pennsylvania didn’t wait for the first lady to come to his table. He rushed toward her with a decorated Valentine’s paper gift bag and got a hug in return. Another patient gave the first lady a pair of sunglasses.
“This is very fashionable,” she said, holding them up.
Children’s Inn is a private, nonprofit facility for seriously ill children, and their families, who are participating in clinical trials at NIH.
Mrs. Trump is focusing her work as first lady on the well-being of children. She visited a children’s hospital in Cincinnati last week to get a briefing on Ohio’s opioid epidemic.