Hultgren highlights human trafficking problem with speech guest

  • Tara Linney

    Tara Linney

  • Homira Wardak

    Homira Wardak

  • Jackson Cunningham

    Jackson Cunningham

Updated 1/19/2015 7:22 PM

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren will take an advocate who fights human trafficking to Tuesday's State of the Union address, and Sen. Dick Durbin's guest will be a veteran injured in Afghanistan in 2010.

Hultgren, a Plano Republican, picked Laila Mickelwait of Kansas City, Missouri, an advocate with the group Exodus Cry. Hultgren is in a congressional group trying to fight human trafficking.


Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, invited Tony Simone, who was injured in a 2010 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, and his wife, Andrea, who has cared for him as he recovered.

"After Captain Simone was wounded in action and returned home, he and his wife, Andrea, continue to show great courage every day that they work together on his recovery," Durbin said.

The guests will join a trio of suburban educators invited by local Democratic members of Congress meant to highlight President Barack Obama's education message in the annual speech.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat, is taking Patty Iverson, a history teacher from York Community High School in Elmhurst. U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Naperville Democrat, will take Tara Linney, a technology educator at Richland School District 88. And U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, has invited Harper College student Homira Wardak of Elgin.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, a Highland Park Republican, has invited Jackson Cunningham, a Champaign boy who befriended Kirk after the senator suffered a stroke. Cunningham suffered one when he was 8 years old. He's now 12.

"To have that strength and character really impressed me about him," Kirk said.

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