Outreach Efforts Bring Joy
Kennedy Space Center's outreach efforts touch many lives, sometimes one at a time. Recently, they brightened the days of an 8-year-old boy in Oregon during his recovery from a serious operation.
Zachary Morgan of Beaverton, Ore., underwent open heart surgery in December and spent several weeks recuperating at home before returning to school. When asked what he'd like the most during his recovery, NASA enthusiast Zachary said "space stuff."
Zachary's grandfather, Bob Swartz, contacted Doug Kohl, a friend who used to work at the Center. He quickly contacted the Kennedy's News Center with a request to send some space memorabilia.
Kennedy's outreach team worked to assemble an assortment of space-related DVDs, books, pamphlets, photographs signed by astronauts, mission patches, pins and other items to help cheer up the young patient. When the packages arrived, Zachary's mother said his eyes grew wide and he said, "Wow, this is amazing!"
Image left: Zachary Morgan enjoys the space-related items sent to him from the Kennedy News Center. Image credit: NASA
"He was very overwhelmed that people would take the time to send him so many wonderful things," Chante Morgan said. "We opened the packages for him at his bedside in the hospital, and with each one we opened, his eyes got bigger and bigger."
"It was wonderful for us to see so much excitement in his face after having gone through such an ordeal," Zachary's mother added. "His recovery is going well and he has enjoyed getting back to some amount of normalcy and being able to see his friends."
Zachary's parents plan to frame many of the pictures, patches and other memorabilia to add to his space-themed bedroom. A mural of the Earth and framed pictures of space shuttle launches already hang on his walls. Zachary plans to share his new treasures with his third-grade classmates as they learn about space in their curriculum at Southwest Christian School in Beaverton this spring.
"You've inspired us so much that we have decided to visit Kennedy Space Center this summer!" Zachary's parents said.
Zachary said that going through the surgery may allow him to help other children in similar situations. During his stay in the hospital, he said he wants to be an astronaut and, if that doesn't work, possibly a heart surgeon. His parents added they are very thankful to those who took the time to brighten the life of a child they don't know.
Outreach efforts at Kennedy spread NASA's Vision for Space Exploration throughout the world through education programs, speaker presentations and exhibits at public events.
Linda Herridge, Staff Writer
NASA's Kennedy Space Center