-- People are journeying from far and wide to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis during his historic visit to the United States, and a lucky few will have the opportunity to get up close to the pontiff.
Meting the pope in Washington, D.C., today is 13-year-old Jake Edwards.
Jake, who has autism, was yesterday honored at the White House for his work. The seventh-grader at Kennedy Krieger School in Montgomery County, Maryland, was recently named Autism Ambassador for Montgomery County Police Department during its annual Autism Night Out, according to the White House’s website.
The event aims to teach law enforcement about individuals with autism, the website said.
Jake is excited for the pope’s visit and says he believes the leader of the world’s Catholic church will “help a lot of people.”
“I want to tell him about all of the great blessings I have,” Jake told ABC News of his upcoming meeting with the pope.
For Jake’s mother, Jenn Lynn, the moment will be an important one, too.
“I can't really even put into words what I'm feeling …,” she said, adding that she was proud. “It’s the result of a lot of years of hard work, and it is just super exciting that he gets this opportunity because of all the hard work that he's done. He admires the pope and the work that he's doing.”
Irshaad Ellis-Bey is the head chef at Catholic Charities. He’ll be cooking for the pope.
“It definitely touches my heart,” Ellis-Bey told local ABC News station WJLA-TV of the opportunity. “It definitely puts the jitters in me a little bit, but at the end of the day it’s definitely going to be a meal that he loves.”
Even the people responsible for transporting the papal delegation are filled with excitement.
“Many of our employees are so excited to be part of this, they really wanted to work for free,” Richard Kane, president and CEO of International Limousine Service, said, adding: “There is energy, our folks are ready to work hard, play hard, and pray hard this week.”