Turning 21

As most of you know, NASA celebrated its 20-year anniversary in 2011. For the occasion, we proudly produced a logo, decals, jackets, etc. Twenty years is indeed a milestone for any company. But something strange happened at the 2011 Northern California banquet, held in February of 2012. “My guys,” which also includes all the lovely ladies on my local staff, went behind my back and cooked up a little surprise for me. It’s a banquet, so I am usually the one handing out awards and heaping recognition, but this was quite a turn of events. They presented me with a magnum of some of my favorite wine from my favorite vintner of Napa Valley Cabernets, Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyard. It was a 1990 vintage, from the owner’s private collection. This alone was an amazing gift, but then I saw all the signatures on the bottle from my local crew, many of whom you’ve met at events around the country.


I was honored and moved by their generosity when I noticed the color etching on the bottle. It had the NASA logo, but also something very curious. “Happy 21st Birthday from Jerry’s Kids.” Well, I understood the “Jerry’s Kids” part, and it warmed my heart and put a smile on my face. But, how funny it was to recognize being around 21 years. That’s when I realized something. While 20 years is a milestone for a company, 21 years is a great milestone in the life of a human. It signifies NASA taking on a life of its own. It’s now a mature young adult. It’s a club, it’s a family, and a living, breathing entity, that will continue to live and grow regardless of whether I am part of it or not. That’s not to say I am going anywhere. Like any parent, I want to be around to see my child live and thrive.

Manifestations of this independent life have been around me for a while now, but I guess hadn’t recognized them yet. Contributions to the benefit of local and national programs have been coming from people’s hearts for years, and it’s time I recognized that. Many regional directors have contributed things that we have adopted nationally, as well as clever and new inventions from my local “kids,” as they call themselves. People have become engaged in the dream I have had for 20 years, and are now working to further it. I am fortunate and thankful that this is taking place.

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NASA was founded in 1991. By 1993, co-founder Ali Arsham and I laid out the details of a 20-year plan for NASA. By 1998 we were two years ahead of schedule in our quest to build NASA. The National Championships first took place in 2006, when the original plan didn’t include such a thing, because that was something we felt would take more than 20 years to materialize. This is just one example among many that I cite as evidence of our progress.

Events like Hyperfest and the United States Air Force 25 hours of Thunderhill Raceway are other examples of just how far ahead of the plan we are. All this is possible, mostly due to the hard work of our current national staff, but also of all the men and women of NASA who so generously volunteer their time, and the hard work of our regional directors. I want to end this note with a thank you to everyone involved in making NASA a living breathing entity that’s now entering adulthood with a life of its own and all the potential in the world.

Image courtesy of Jerry Kunzman

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