- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2020

PALM BEACH, Fla. — First lady Melania Trump touted her “Be Best” program and the Trump administration’s battle against the opioid crisis as she accepted an award Wednesday from a Florida Christian college.

The first lady told the 550 attendees at Palm Beach Atlantic University’s “Women of Distinction” luncheon that her anti-cyber bullying and anti-drug abuse initiative “has been shining a light on programs across the country and overseas that help our youth understand what it means to Be Best.”

“Be Best can mean performing a simple act of kindness, providing care for someone in need, or teaching a life-enriching lesson,” Trump said of her program launched two years ago. Wearing a white dress and standing in front of a two-story American flag, she said “it is my hope that by promoting Be Best values, we will give a voice to the concerns and struggles of our children, and help them overcome the challenges they face.”

She said the U.S. experienced its first drop in opioid deaths in three decades last year, giving credit to her husband’s programs.

“Opioids have affected the lives of more than 2 million children in the United States ,” Trump said, including the children of addicts. “I’ve seen firsthand how opioid abuse affects families who struggling with addiction. I have traveled to children’s hospitals and treatment facilities who support those affected by opioids.”

Palm Beach Atlantic President William Fleming said the 2,500-student university honored the first lady for her compassion and kindness, calling her a worldwide role model.

The university, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) north of the Trumps’ Mar-a-Lago resort and residence, says its annual “Women of Distinction” honors those “who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others.” Previous winners include Barbara Nicklaus, the wife of golf great Jack Nicklaus; Candy Carson, the wife of Housing Secretary Ben Carson; fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer; and Helen DeVos, whose husband Rich co-founded Amway.

As usual, Florida will be the largest battleground state in November’s election. Donald Trump carried the state by just over a percentage point in 2016.

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