WASHINGTON, D.C. — Presidential historians might have a better sense, but Tuesday night, Joshua Davis became one of the only Americans in history to receive a “happy birthday, buddy” from the President of the United States during the State of the Union address.
The 13-year-old from Midlothian, Virginia, celebrated his birthday in the nation’s capital as a guest of the First Lady and began trending on social media after cameras captured his excitement and big smile during the address.
Joshua, thank you for being by my side tonight — Joe and I are so proud of you. We hope this is a birthday you’ll always remember. pic.twitter.com/NO6AixI4wi— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) March 2, 2022
“It was honestly very shocking when he said it,” Joshua said. “Then after he said it, I realized how much of a big deal that was, like, in the middle of his speech, he said Happy Birthday to me. That's just, that's just awesome.”
Following the speech, Joshua’s older brother pointed out Joshua was the #9 trending topic on Twitter. Even late-night host Steven Colbert joked that Joshua was actually Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, before gushing over Joshua’s reaction and calling him adorable.
The Davis family had a fun night with all the attention, although Joshua says he is actually not a fan of it.
“So I'm excited to tell you that I'm no longer trending on Twitter.” Joshua said. “Thankfully. I don't really like this whole popularity thing... I get back to school tomorrow. I'm definitely gonna downplay it.”
“I told him he's the perfect one for all of this attention because it doesn't go to his head and that's not what he seeks out and that's not the purpose for doing so. That's what makes him the perfect person for this,” his father Brian said.
The purpose behind Joshua’s adventure to the White House and the State of Union is something he has always known.
“I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 11 months old, so I don't remember not having diabetes. It's my entire life,” Joshua said. “Insulin cost the people who make insulin about $10 a vial... they turn around and charge us about like $300. Insulin is my life support, I don't have a choice whether or not I take it, and we don't have a choice whether or not we buy it.”
Brian Davis is also a type 1 diabetic.
“We need insulin for every single thing we put in our mouth, other than water. We need a consistent basal rate to keep our levels steady,” Brian said. “We've been blessed to have good insurance for as long as I've been working, but it's still a lot of money out of pocket, even for our family. But there are other families that aren't as blessed and don't have as good as insurance as we do.”
During the speech, President Biden lent his voice to an effort on the federal level to cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for those with health coverage to $35 per month. The Davis family had been working with Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D) on the issue when an insulin cost cap was part of the now stalled Building Back Better Act.
The Davis family helped advocate for astate law in Virginia, passed in 2020,that has capped the out-of-pocket for a max for a 30-day supply of insulin to $50. Joshua said he has been advocating for lowering drug costs more than half his life, and the 13-year-old said this moment was a high-water mark for his family’s efforts.
“It's exciting that we're doing our part to help lower the cost of insulin and other prescription drugs. And it's also a little over overwhelming, knowing the weight of what we've been doing. And yes, it's just some very big mixture of feelings,” Joshua said.
“We feel very strongly, and I'm pretty sure I speak for Joshua, we're just doing a very small part for for this,” Brian said. “Being able to see that grow through Representative Spanberger and the President of the United States and everybody who is working this topic, it’s just phenomenal.”
Between 2012 and 2017, the average annual cost of prescription drug treatments in Virginia increased by nearly 60 percent,according to Spanberger’s Office.
The last two days have been “surreal” for the Davis family. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden even sang Joshua “Happy Birthday” during the State of the Union reception at the White House.
“At the White House, everyone was doing things for me. I felt very awkward and it was unnatural because I'm not used to not having to clear the table and did the dishes,” Joshua said.
President Biden even gave Joshua a gift after the address.
“Afterwards in a reception, I got to take pictures with him and talk to him. He gave me another present, which was the Presidential coin,” Joshua said. “Very special, and I even got an extra for my brother.”
“It really has been a surreal experience that we are trying to soak in and just keep hold of right now,” Brian said. “Knowing that we're going to get back to normal, you know, back to school tomorrow, missing assignments, and all of that, but just being able to take in the idea that the small amount of work that we feel we're doing. . . it's amazing to see is now on the national stage.”
Spanberger’s office said she plans to co-sponsor stand alone legislation that will cap the cost of out-of-pocket insulin costs for families.