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Valley’s paralympians meet president at the White House

Oswego's paralympian Joe Berenyi (standing center behind president) participates ceremony with first lady Michelle Obam(left) President Barack ObamU.S. Paralympic flag

Oswego's paralympian Joe Berenyi (standing center behind president), participates in a ceremony with first lady Michelle Obama (left), President Barack Obama, U.S. Paralympic flag bearer and Navy Veteran Brad Snyder (right) and many other members of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais~AP

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Updated: October 17, 2012 6:30AM

At least two local athletes were on hand as President Obama honored the 2012 Paralympians and Olympians Friday morning.

Oswego paracyclist Joe Berenyi and Naperville swimmer Alyssa Gialamas were at the White House, where the president praised the athletes as great ambassadors.

“You made us proud,” Obama said. “And, as President, you made me especially proud to see how you conducted yourself on a world stage. You could not have been better ambassadors and better representatives for the United States and what we stand for.”

Berenyi, 43, won gold, silver and bronze medals at the Paralympic Games in London. He took a gold medal in the 3-kilometer individual pursuit, a silver in the men’s individual time trial and a bronze in the track cycling mixed sprint competition as part of a three-member U.S. team.

In photos of Friday’s event, he is seen standing directly behind Obama and slightly to the right of gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps.

Berenyi lost his right arm in a construction accident 18 years ago. He competes on a modified two-wheel racing bike.

Gialamas, a Waubonsie Valley High School junior, placed fifth in the 200-meter freestyle, and had the ninth-best time among all swimmers in both the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle heats. In all her events, she was the only American to compete.

Friday morning on her Facebook page, Gialamas wrote: “Off to the White House with the Olympians and Paralympians to meet Obama!”

A short time later on Twitter, Gialamas said she’d shook the president’s hand and hugged Michelle Obama.

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