MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Staff Sgt. Dan Westby and his wife have been invited to the President’s Inaugural Ball, but tight finances have the once-in-a-lifetime trip in limbo.

Westby is one of only two Minnesota soldiers invited to Washington D.C. for the event on Monday.

When he sent in a request to attend the ball months ago, the Minnesota National Guard member never thought he’d actually get an invitation.

“My biggest honor, thus far, is a bronze star for my last tour of duty,” said the soldier with 16 years of service in the Minnesota National Guard, and three tours of duty.

But that accolade may have gotten topped.

“At this point I could care less about my medals — meeting the President, being in that area, is an insane honor,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime (opportunity).”

The trip of a lifetime takes time to plan, and Dan’s wife Kari spent last night searching for a dress.

“It’s the prettiest dress, I’ve ever had,” Kari said. “I feel like Cinderella.”

But Kari’s wondering if she’ll be able to wear her new dress.

“We just don’t know how we’re going to get there,” Kari said.

The family lives on a modest income and a surprise trip to Washington D.C. is proving to be more than they can afford. Funding for the trip isn’t available through the National Guard.

“If we can’t go, it’s going to break both our hearts,” Kari said.

Kari spent the afternoon searching for plane tickets — the cheapest were around $600 each.

“We don’t have a lot of time to decide,” Dan said.

The Westbys are hoping to leave Sunday.


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