On a late April night, Up With People alumni and supporters gathered at the Marriott in downtown Denver to celebrate the past, embrace the present, and look towards the future.
On a late April night, Up With People alumni and supporters gathered at the Marriott in downtown Denver to celebrate the past, embrace the present, and look towards the future. Up With People is a non-profit organization that (in its 48 years) has built bridges of understanding, impacted communities, and entertained the world.
The founder, Blanton Belk, started Up With People to "try and make a big difference in the world." Blanton Belk is a close friend of Captain Eugene (Gene) Cernan, the last man who walked on the moon. Cernan was the keynote speaker at the gala, which fund raised for student scholarships to UWP, and he spoke to CK.
Surprisingly enough, Gene didn't always want to be an astronaut. "When I was your age (12), all I wanted to was fly airplanes off an aircraft carrier. I had a dream that I wanted to fly airplanes. I mean there were no astronauts, period." He did get to fly airplanes, and about that time, Sputnik was launched. "I'll never be good enough. By the time I'm good enough, there won't be anything left to do," Gene said. He was wrong about that.
As Cernan stepped onto the ladder to go back on the spacecraft, he looked back at his footprints and at the Earth. "I wanted this moment to last forever," Gene admitted. He wanted to be able to go back and find a concrete answer to tell people how he felt at the second. "It was frustrating. I had to keep going, I couldn't stop time!" Still close to Up With People after the trip, he started to talking to someone about what it really felt like to stand on the surface of the moon and look back to home. From that came the song, "Moonrider."
There's two phrases in that song are especially significant to Gene. The first is, "Isn't it the way we perceive things that will make them what they will be," which is another way of saying your dreams will have impact on the future of the world. The other one to remember is at the very end of the song: "So Captain, give the orders. Let's cross the next frontier."
Cernan spoke, "I don't know what the next frontier is. You will; very soon. Dreams of the future are hard to define, but I promise you; your dreams can come true. My dad used to tell me one thing, 'Go out and do your best.'
Gene Cernan ended his talk by saying, "Shoot for the moon. Wherever and whatever your moon may be, always shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you will land somewhere among the stars."