WASHINGTON – First lady Michelle Obama’s guests at the State of the Union speech tonight include former NBA player Jason Collins, two Boston Marathon bombing survivors and representatives of Punch Pizza, the Minnesota-based company that raised the minimum wage for its employees to $10 last year.

The backgrounds of the first lady’s 26 guests represent the themes that President Barack Obama is expected to emphasize in his address to a joint session of the House and Senate.

Many of the guests in the first lady’s visitors’ gallery box are young. Joey Hurdy of Anthem, Ariz., is Intel’s youngest intern. Hudy, 16, first met President Obama at the 2012 White House Science Fair, where he demonstrated his “extreme marshmallow cannon” to Obama. Immigration reform advocate Cristian Avila fasted for 22 days at the Capitol last year. According to the White House, the 23-year-old resident of Phoenix, Ariz., continues to push for changes in immigration law so that he can one day serve as a U.S. Marine.

Some guests have helped other Americans through periods of tragedy. Fire Chief Gary Bird of Moore, Okla., was one of the first responders to the EF5 tornado that killed 25 people on May 20, 2013. Carlos Arredondo, 53, and Jeff Bauman, 27, survived the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. After the attack, Arredondo rushed the injured Bauman to safety. Bauman lost both of his legs in the attack and later helped to identify the bombers, the White House said.

To emphasize Obama’s push for raising the minimum wage, John Soranno, founder of Minnesota’s Punch Pizza, and his employee, Nick Chute will also join the president’s wife. According to the White House, the company has seen positive results since raising the minimum wage. Punch Pizza is set to open its ninth location this summer. Chute told the White House that the wage raise made him “feel like a bigger part of the company.”

Jason Collins was the first male athlete active on a major professional team sports to come out as gay. He played for six teams in his 12 years in the NBA. After Collins came out in April 2013, Obama said he “couldn’t be prouder” of the former center.

Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama, will also join the first lady in the gallery.

Last year’s guests included family members of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting victims. Obama pushed for tougher gun laws in his 2013 speech.

Besides the first lady’s guests, each lawmaker can bring a plus-one to the speech. This year, many guests of Republican legislators are intended to highlight the asserted negative impacts of the Affordable Care Act, from people who have had their plans canceled to small businessmen paying new premiums for their employees.

Alternatively, Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will bring Willie and Korie Robertson, stars of cable television’s Duck Dynasty.

Democrats are also choosing guests to direct attention certain issues they wish to see movement on in the coming year.

Eight House Democrats will bring Americans affected by the expiration of extended unemployment benefits at the beginning of the year. Five Illinois Democrats have invited guests whose stories relate to immigration reform. Attending as a guest of Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., is Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, N.J., made famous as the apparent political target of the bridge-jam scandal surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will be absent from tonight’s State of the Union. He is President Obama’s “designated survivor,” the official assigned to stay at an undisclosed, distant location in order to preserve part of the government in the event of a catastrophic attack on the Capitol building during the speech.

Moniz is a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty member. He has served on numerous science and technology boards and commissions, according to the Department of Energy website.

He was confirmed unanimously as Secretary of Energy in May 2013.