Soldiers Need Care Too

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-09-19

The care packages include food, personal care items, and messages of gratitude for active-duty soldiers deployed on the front lines. Photo by Shaunna Boyd.

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - On Wednesday, September 11, Move America Forward (with support from the Rancho Cordova Chamber of Commerce) held its second annual Packathon to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the terror attack on September 11, 2001. The event was held at Move America Forward’s Rancho Cordova headquarters, where volunteers worked together with veterans, active-duty military members, and Gold Star parents to assemble care packages for soldiers serving on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The organization shipped 911 care packages — which included letters of support along with food and personal care items — and volunteers packed approximately 500 additional boxes. Danny Gonzalez, director of communications for Move America Forward, said, “I ask that everyone do something nice for a soldier, even if it’s just thanking them for their service. … Let’s make 9/11 a day when Americans come together and really unify as one people and make it a day of service.”

The Packathon’s Master of Ceremonies was former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness, a decorated veteran with more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement. McGinness said that many servicemembers “answered the call” to join the military because of the events of 9/11: “It’s extraordinary and it speaks to the character, the courage, the valor, the selflessness that really truly is abundant in our society and in our great nation.”

McGinness introduced Sergeant First Class Jeff Raver of the Northern California Recruiting Battalion, who enlisted in the army at the age of 21 because of the attack on 9/11. Sergeant Raver described the event as “one of the tragic stories for all of us, but something to remember.” He said that just a month earlier he had taken a trip to the east coast with his brothers and they had “stood on top of those towers. So, a month later when that happened, it really hit home. That’s why I serve.” Sergeant Raver enlisted the very next day, September 12, 2001, and chose to ship out just 72 hours later. After getting through basic training, Sergeant Raver was deployed on his first tour in Afghanistan. “I was able and willing, and I decided to make that commitment.”

The event’s featured speaker was Colonel Stephanie Williams, Commander of the 940th Air Refueling Wing at Beale Air Force Base. Colonel Williams is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, and she also commanded the 385th Air Expeditionary Group at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Colonel Williams was an active-duty international guard pilot starting “a normal day, I thought.” After watching news footage of the airplanes crashing into the towers, she experienced “disbelief, shock. … Ultimately seeing the towers collapse … was very, very surreal. Even having served in active duty in the military for 10 years, it was surreal to see something like that.”

At the time of the 9/11 attack, Colonel Williams said many members of the military had “served through mostly a peaceful period, but 9/11 was the start of something new to us. Think about the soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen today. … The vast majority joined after September 11, 2001.” Colonel Williams said that our nation responded to the terror attack with “strength, honor, resilience, dedication, [and] focus.”

To the Gold Star Families, Colonel Williams expressed gratitude: “[I’m] grateful to those who gave all to defend our freedom. … Thank you for your family’s sacrifice and service to our nation. … Thank you for raising a hero.”

Colonel Williams also thanked Move America Forward for hosting the event: “Having been deployed myself, it meant a lot to know that fellow Americans at home were thinking about me and were behind me and my teammates in what we were doing to defend freedom worldwide. … Thank you for your tireless support of our military members.”

If you are interested in sponsoring a care package or volunteering your time, visit www.MoveAmericaForward.org.

‘Green Lights Initiative’: Seeing the Light on Bulb Disposal

By David Dickstein  |  2019-09-05

LEDtronics, one of the largest U.S.-based manufacturers of LED products, launched on Aug. 20 the 60-day Green Lights Initiative to help raise awareness on how citizens and companies can properly recycle lighting devices. Photo by Raffi Shubukian

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Recycling at home or work has become part of our daily routine, but one ubiquitous device that still raises questions over disposal is light bulbs. Do they go out with the normal trash? Get tossed in recycling containers? Do you save them for the next neighborhood e-waste event? The answers aren’t easy, thanks in part to new technologies to Thomas Edison’s illuminating invention along with society’s growing environmental concerns.

A 60-day initiative to help raise awareness on how citizens and companies can properly recycle lighting devices launched on Aug. 20. The Green Lights Initiative is sponsored by LEDtronics, one of the largest U.S.-based manufacturers of LED products, and whose lighting has put a shine on Sacramento from a downtown comic book store to the passenger trains that roll through the downtown and Roseville stations.

Besides donating to Keep America Beautiful with a check purposely dated Nov. 15 to coincide with America Recycles Day, the Torrance, Calif.-based company is taking to social media, print and electronic media to get the word out. New and long-time supporters of proper lighting disposal will be urged to sign an online petition at Change.org.

“‘When my light bulbs burn out, where do I put them?’ Being in the lighting business for nearly 40 years, we get that question a lot,” said Shaan Lodhie, LEDtronics’ chief operating officer. “Our company makes only LEDs, which are safe to dispose of in trash bins because they contain no hazardous chemicals. But that’s not necessarily the right option for environmental, safety and other reasons. When it comes to CFL and fluorescent bulbs, both of which contain small amounts of mercury, chucking them in the trashcan or with the recycling isn’t wise for intensified reasons.”

LEDtronics’ donation to Keep America Beautiful will help the non-profit with its mission to “inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment.”

Tips on Disposing Light Bulbs                                                                                                                                                       

When a real light bulb goes out, how great it would be if an imaginary light bulb appeared over your head to signal a bright idea for what to do next. With so many types of lighting on the market, even a single home or business can have multiple ways to illuminate. Materials being shared through the Green Lights Initiative include a “how to” on properly disposing and recycling the most common types of light bulbs. Here’s a summary of tips by lighting category:

CFL and fluorescent – Small amounts of the toxic chemical mercury make these bulbs harmful to your health and environment. Simply tossing them in the trash is unwise, and in some circumstances unlawful. Because broken CFL and fluorescent bulbs are damaging to the environment if they enter landfills or the water supply, more stringent and rigorous steps are required to dispose. A local home improvement store or recycling center might be able to take this work – and the bulbs – off your hands;

LED – Safe as it is to dispose of LEDs in trash bins due to an absence of toxic chemicals, recycling them is still the best option from an environmental and safety perspective. Better than tossing them in your recycling container, locate a recycling center that accepts LEDs, which contain reusable components;

Incandescent and halogen – Like LEDs, these types typically contain no toxic chemicals. Disposing them in a trashcan or recycling bin is one solution, but a better one is handing them over to a recycling center. Because glass in incandescents and halogens shatters easily, wrapping the bulbs in recyclable packaging materials is also smart.

If you need help finding a recycling center that accepts bulbs, visit search.earth911.com or batteriesplus.com/t/recycling/Light-Bulb.

For further information on the Green Lights Initiative, visit LEDtronics.com/recycle.

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Presenting Two Evenings of VIP Cocktail Farm-To-Fork Cocktail Train Rides

By Traci Rockefeller Cusack, T-Rock Communications  |  2019-09-05

The VIP Cocktail Train Ride as an official Farm-to-Fork sponsor cruises along the scenic Sacramento River. Photo courtesy of Kelly B. Huston

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Showcasing the rich history and deep connection between agriculture and the railroad, the California State Railroad Museum Foundation is proud to continue its multi-year partnership with Visit Sacramento as an official Farm-to-Fork sponsor. To celebrate the important role the railroad once played in bringing the fruits of the farm to emerging new communities throughout the region and nation, the Foundation is excited to present two evenings of VIP Cocktail Train Ride experiences on Saturday, September 28 & Sunday, September 29, 2019.

The VIP Cocktail Train first debuted in 2015 and was recognized as a finalist in Sunset Magazine’s Travel Awards competition in the “Best Train Experience” category. New this year, the elegant experience features themed wine and food pairings courtesy of Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand winner Frank Fats as guests travel along the picturesque Sacramento River in beautifully restored luxury train cars.

“2019 continues to be an important year for the railroad and we’re thrilled to continue the celebratory activities aboard Cocktail Train Rides while partnering with the esteemed Fat Family Restaurant Group, the oldest restaurant in the city to be owned exclusively by one family,” said Cheryl Marcell, President & CEO of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation.

“The Sacramento Southern Railroad was once primarily used to transport pears, asparagus, celery, seeds and other agricultural products to markets from local Delta communities. Today, the Museum and Foundation are proud to offer historic and authentic excursion train rides and VIP Cocktail Train ride experiences on the very same Sacramento Southern Railroad.”

With VIP train rides on each evening at 6 p.m. departing from the Central Pacific Freight Depot along the Old Sacramento Waterfront, VIP Cocktail Train ride guests can sit back and experience what first-class was like during the early decades of the 20th century as developed by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Once they board, ticketed guests will be treated to a series of exquisite small plate appetizers provided by Frank Fat’s and paired with a craft cocktail, wine or sparkling selections.

The deliciously delightful menu includes Honey Walnut Prawns paired with a craft cocktail that features Gold River Distillery Vodka; Vegetable Chow Fun paired with a Chardonnay from Talbott Vineyards; Cumin Spiced Lamb Skewers from Superior Farms paired with a Cabernet Sauvignon from Mettler Family Vineyards; and finished with a choice of delicious desserts that include Banana Cream or Chocolate Cream Pie Shooters paired with Champagne served in a keepsake souvenir glass.

Uniformed stewards will provide the finest first-class service onboard three of the California State Railroad Museum’s first-class cars: the Audubon dining car, the El Dorado lounge car and the French Quarter lounge car from the 1950s that served the famed Southern Pacific “Sunset Limited” service. As an added treat, the cars will be pulled by two eye-catching locomotives – Western Pacific No. 913 and Southern Pacific No. 6051 – both of which are classic streamlined locomotives representative of the first generation of diesel-electric locomotives.

Space is limited on the Farm-To-Fork Cocktail Train and tickets are on sale now. Train ride tickets cost $125 per person and all train ride guests must be 21 years of age or over. The VIP Cocktail Train is a Foundation fundraiser for the California State Railroad Museum and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, and corporate sponsorships are available by calling 916-407-2213. For more information or to purchase tickets on the VIP Cocktail Train, please visit www.californiarailroad.museum/.

 

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CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - NatureFest, a family-friendly event focusing on science & nature education, will run from 10am to 3pm at Effie Yeaw Nature Center on Sunday, September 22.

Nearly 40 local organizations will participate as exhibitors and sponsors, providing demonstrations and activities related to science education and outdoor recreation. Each exhibitor booth is interactive, and there are live animal shows and guided nature walks throughout the day.

Highlights include: An array of local and exotic animals presented on stage by Wild Things and Save the Snakes; Live bats, reptiles, and birds of prey at booths and shows all day long; Fly-tying instruction for kids; Karuk, Maidu, and Wintu tribe cultural demonstrations such as basket weaving; Hands-on art projects; Guided walks through the 100-acre nature preserve.

“This year we are celebrating our ninth annual NatureFest. This family-friendly event has grown each year, both in attendees and exhibitors,” said Heather Gabel, the Nature Center’s Interim Executive Director. “Last year we welcomed over 1,500 visitors and 30 booths. NatureFest is a great way to be introduced to the variety of nature related topics and activities in the Sacramento Region. We hope you will join us for this educational and fun event!”

Exhibitors include: NorCal Bats, Wild Things, Save the Snakes, Folsom Zoo, Sacramento Audubon Society, Maidu, Wintu, and Karuk Tribal demonstrations, Golden Country Wildlife Rescue and many more.

For more information, visit www.sacnaturecener.net or call 916-489-4918.

About Effie Yeaw Nature Center: Founded in 1976, the Nature Center is part of a 100-acre nature study area with riparian and oak woodlands, shrub lands, meadows, and aquatic habitats. The nature area is included as a "Watchable Wildlife" site in the California state guide because of its reliable wildlife viewing opportunities.  In addition to the nature preserve, much loved by walkers, artists and photographers, other features of the Nature Center include: Replica Nisenan Maidu Summer Village, Museum Exhibits and Collection, Resident Animals, Native Plant Landscaping, Discovery Gift Shop. The Nature Center is the American River Parkway’s interpretive center dedicated to providing educational and interpretive programs and information about the natural environment to schools, children, and the public.

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Henry’s Great Adventures

By Patrick Larenas  |  2019-08-29

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - “Working as a nurse, I saw therapy dogs serving at Mercy San Juan Hospital and thought what a wonderful, touching gesture for our patients,” said Carmichael resident, Janet Fulton. In 2015, Fulton, who worked for Dignity Health for over 40 years, retired as a nurse and later adopted Henry, an 8 week old golden retriever puppy, to train him for a life of volunteer work.

Being only 2 years old, Henry has just recently begun his hospital vocation as a Registered Therapy Dog. Fulton and Henry received their training together from Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue & Sanctuary in Elverta, CA. Fulton is impressed with Henry’s ability to bring soothing attention to the sick and suffering: “You can just feel the stress level go down as he tends to patients, comforting them with his compassionate eyes and responsive eyebrows.”

Sporting a dog work jacket with a badge, “Henry just walks down the hospital corridor and leads me to another patient, and then I always get that feeling like this is why we are here,” said Fulton. “It’s an amazing experience and privilege.”

Henry descends from a long line of therapy dogs from Sutter Bay Retrievers in Portland, Oregon. Fulton credits the dog breeder with much of the dog’s success: “The breeder herself is a nurse and picks which ones she thinks are going to be good therapy dogs. He’s even the right height for a hospital bed,” said Fulton. “He just slides his muzzle into patient’s hands and they instantly feel the unconditional affection that only a dog can give.”

Janet Fulton volunteers at Kaiser Permanente in the Roseville Medical Center, and if you want to see Henry at work with children you can also see him at North Sacramento Hagginwood Library. Or, visit Henry on Facebook at Henry’s Great Adventures.

 

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The William G. Irwin Foundation recently awarded $50,000 to the Sacramento Life Center to help pay off the mortgage on the group’s medical facility. The grant will allow Sacramento Life Center to free up funding for current programs, as well as future programs such as prenatal medical care and well-woman exams for low-income pregnant women and teen girls. Since moving to the expanded medical facility in 2016, the Sacramento Life Center has seen a 30 percent increase in women, teen girls and couples seeking services.

“We are incredibly grateful to the William G. Irwin Foundation for its generous investment in the health of low-income women and teens in our community,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “This capital grant will help the Sacramento Life Center fund current and new programs for the next two decades, helping thousands of mothers and their children receive free medical care – especially those who have nowhere to turn.”

The Sacramento Life Center serves some of the most vulnerable women and children in Sacramento County. The majority of patients face serious financial challenges, and increasing numbers are battling unemployment, domestic violence, homelessness, drug and alcohol problems, mental illness, sexually transmitted infections and more. Fifty percent of the group’s patients have no medical coverage.

For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and two Mobile Medical Clinics that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. In 2018, the Sacramento Life Center achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which ensures the group has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality health care. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, a 24-hour hotline and a program for women who have experienced reproductive grief.

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Honoring Grandparents With Butterfly Release

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-08-15

Participants will release Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies in honor of Grandparents

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sunday, September 8 is national Grandparents Day, and two local non-profits are observing the day with a Grandparents Day Butterfly Release. Sacramento Children’s Museum (SCM) and Snowline Hospice are hosting the Butterfly Release ceremony at 11:30 am at the museum, which is located at 2701 Prospect Park in Rancho Cordova.

 SCM’s mission is to inspire a love of life-long learning by providing a space for children to play, create, and explore. Snowline’s mission is to help patients through end-of-life care and support their families through the grieving process. The Grandparents Day Butterfly Release is a way to support two great causes at the same time while also recognizing the vital role grandparents play in children’s lives.

SCM’s director of museum advancement Meghan Toland said, “We chose Grandparents Day because grandparents are so important to us at the museum — we see them bringing kids in every day. … Celebrating grandparents is a great way to bring awareness to Snowline and the Sacramento Children’s Museum.”

Participants can dedicate a butterfly in name of a beloved grandparent. “You can reserve as many butterflies as you want,” said Toland. The event will include Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies — both beautiful options to honor grandparents’ significant impact on our lives.

The butterflies are locally and sustainably sourced, and they will be transported to the museum on ice — putting them into a temporary hibernation until they are woken up at the event. Participants will wake the butterflies by warming them in their hands during the dedication, and then the butterflies will be ready for release after the ceremony.

Grandparents are an important part of all our lives, so Toland explained that the event is not just for children — all ages are encouraged to attend. She also emphasized that the dedications do not have to be in remembrance: “It’s to remember those we don’t have any more and also to celebrate those still in our lives every day.”

Toland said they expect to release 400 butterflies, so they are anticipating a large turnout at the event. After the Butterfly Release, a celebration will feature games, activities, face painting, and food vendors.

Proceeds from the event will benefit SCM’s educational programs and Snowline’s Healing All Together (HAT) grief group, which helps children and their families deal with grief after losing a loved one. Because it can be difficult for kids to verbalize their emotions, HAT helps kids express their grief through art, motion, music, and play. SCM works in partnership with Snowline, which hosts the HAT program at the museum twice a month.

Butterflies for the event must be reserved in advance on the website, and people are already signing up. The deadline to reserve a butterfly is Friday, September 6 and the cost is $10 per butterfly, or $15 for a butterfly and admission to the museum. To reserve a butterfly — or to sign up as a vendor or sponsor — visit www.sackids.org.

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Over 16,000 Diapers Donated To Sacramento Life Center Through Leatherby’s

By Kristin Thébaud, Kristin Thébaud Communications  |  2019-08-07

Volunteers at Sacramento Life Center organize diapers donated through Daddy Dave’s Diaper Drive. Photo courtesy Kristin Thébaud Communications

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Local residents who brought an unopened pack of diapers to any Leatherby’s Family Creamery location on July 20 received a $5 gift card to Leatherby’s, resulting in donations of more than 16,000 diapers for the Sacramento Life Center. Daddy Dave’s Diaper Drive, which took place during National Ice Cream Month, provided diapers for low-income moms in the Sacramento area and honored the life of the ice cream shop’s founder Dave Leatherby Sr. who passed away earlier this year and supported the Sacramento Life Center for decades.

“It was heartwarming to see the Sacramento community come together to support local moms and babies in need, as well as to honor my dad who believed so much in this cause,” said Marie Leatherby, executive director, Sacramento Life Center. “Thank to you everyone who brought diapers or donated online – these diapers mean the world to families in our community.”

The Sacramento Life Center accepts diaper donations all year at its primary clinic at 2316 Bell Executive Lane in Sacramento. Families in need of diapers can call the clinic at (916) 451-4357 to learn if they qualify to receive free diapers.

The Sacramento Life Center’s mission is to offer compassion, support, resources and free medical care to women and couples facing an unplanned or unsupported pregnancy. The Sacramento Life Center’s licensed Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic includes a primary clinic and mobile clinic that provide all services for free, including pregnancy tests, STD tests, ultrasounds, peer counseling for men and women, education and resource referrals. In 2018, the Sacramento Life Center achieved accreditation by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, which ensures the group has met nationally recognized standards for the provision of high-quality health care. The nonprofit also offers a school-based teen education program, 24-hour hotline and program for women who have experienced reproductive grief.

For more information about the Sacramento Life Center’s Sac Valley Pregnancy Clinic, visit www.svpclinic.com. For more information about the Sacramento Life Center or to make a donation, visit www.saclife.org.

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A Personal Blast Off!

By Sal Arrigo, Jr.  |  2019-08-07

Image of a Saturn V rocket similar to the one that carried the Apollo 11 space capsule to the Moon. Photo by Sal Arrigo, Jr.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - It all started in northern New Jersey at Kittle Field, a part of the Stokes State Forest Service. I was 10 years old and my Dad and I were about to blast off my first Estes model rocket. I was hooked after that experience. Fast forward to July 16, 2019, and I was at the U.S. Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama, ready to witness the world record attempt of the launching of 5,000 model rockets simultaneously in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and the Apollo 11 astronauts.

To achieve the record, the Rocket Center said the launch must meet the following criteria: Use commercially available rockets and build them following basic manufacturer guidelines; Pass 30 meters (or about 100 feet) in altitude; Have an independent specialist verify the counting method. An independent specialist is anyone who can claim a general level of experience or knowledge in the specific field of our record attempt (someone who has experience with model rocketry or aerospace engineering.)

Part of the verification process is determining that a record number of rockets exceeded the 100-feet threshold. The launch at the US Space Center successfully launched 4,923 model rockets. Although confident that the 100-foot mark was achieved, (the previous world record was 4,231 model rockets successfully launched), the Space Center said it may take up to 16 weeks to receive confirmation from the Guinness World Records officials.

What fascinates us with the moon and the stars and the planets? The Apollo 11 astronauts represented all those people like us who thirst for adventure, and we are fascinated when someone actually lives our dream for us. I met a volunteer named Eli, who works as a Planetarium Specialist at the US Space Center. He told me he has a love of rockets and enjoys “educating people about his work.” We discussed how many people, approximately 3,000, came to witness the model rocket launch.

One aspect of the launch was the number of children who witnessed the event, and it makes sense since children from all over can enjoy Space Camp at the US Space Center. It is one of the most popular programs, and according to the US Space Center it is “designed to inspire and motivate youth to push the boundaries of human exploration just as generations before them did. Space Camp is internationally popular, with visitors from all 50 states and more than 60 foreign countries.”

As you start to grasp the history that surrounds you at the US Space Center, one does not need to go any farther than to stand face to face with two of the most iconic symbols that represent our space program – the Saturn V rocket and the Space Shuttle. I have to admit I am still in awe of seeing these two monuments, and part of the generation that welcomed them to our side. What was it like to be in these vehicles for our space explorers? Fortunately, we had a president that also wanted to know the answer.

In September 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech that focused the United States on landing men on the moon. The President said, “… the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading spacefaring nation.”

It wasn’t long after that we became “trekkies” and became obsessed with the science fiction television show called “Star Trek” that debuted in 1966 and ended in 1969, just one month before we landed men on the moon. Whether a television show or a real life space drama, we were imagining being on the moon, or being one of the characters on “Star Trek.” I take note when we can see an eclipse, or to see the planets align, or witness shooting stars. What exactly is out there in space? 

Now nearly fifty-seven years since President’s Kennedy speech, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced the creation of the Artemis program. Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. The goal of the program is to return astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, to the lunar surface by 2024. American astronauts will also step foot where no human has ever been before - the Moon’s South Pole. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, it is estimated that 600 million people watched, and I ask you, will you and your family be watching in 2024?

For more information on the US Space Center and the City of Huntsville (the Chamber of Commerce is especially helpful), please visit these helpful websites:

https://www.rocketcenter.com/

https://www.rocketcenter.com/INTUITIVEPlanetarium/daily#page-title

https://www.rocketcenter.com/featuredexhibitions

https://www.huntsville.org/

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Eppie’s Race is Back On

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-07-11

Great American Triathlon organizers are business partners Ken McGuire (left) and Dan Niccum.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Businessman Ken McGuire last year feared was the end of an era when the “final” Eppie’s Great race was announced.

Co-founder of Innovations Health Systems – a network of heath-centered services and facilities in the Bay Area – McGuire (52) never actually competed in the annual event.

“I felt it was too great a tradition to let die,” he explains. “People came here from all over the USA to compete. Eppie’s was a boost for our national profile. We Sacramentans talked about the great race in the same conversation as Kings Basketball games and the California International Marathon. It helped charities. For all sorts of good reasons, keeping Eppie’s alive seemed critical.”

Now, thanks to McGuire, the world’s oldest triathlon has not quite ended, after all. Steered by the Sacramento businessman, the contest that the late Eppie Johnston began in 1974 has new branding. From the starting gun July 20, and for future summers, it will be run as The Great American Triathlon. The endurance epic will again follow the American River Parkway in foot, bicycle and kayak stages. While benefitting charities, it will endure as one of our area’s great summer events.

Via many meetings and phone calls, McGuire persuaded major Eppie’s supporters to keep paddling. In January, Sacramento County gave approval for the new parkway event.

Capital City Road Management will continue to manage the race. Former volunteers have rallied, and more than 20 companies have agreed to co-sponsor. McGuire’s business partner, Carmichael resident Dan Niccum, is onboard for brand development.

The new race will continue restauranteur Eppie Johnston’s philanthropic drive that raised more than a million dollars for non-profits over 48 years. “Our fundraising for the American River Parkway Foundation and children’s health charities is important,” confirms McGuire. “We hope to write big checks for good causes. But above all, we want to maintain a community event that defines summer in Sacramento.”

The world’s oldest triathlon will set a cracking pace through the accustomed river stretches of Arcade, Carmichael, Fair Oaks and Rancho Cordova. Starting line is at William Pond Park. Athletes will follow a six-mile route to the Guy West Bridge near CSUS, and then grab bikes to pedal 12 miles to the beach below Sunrise Boulevard (Fair Oaks). There is no swimming stage; contestants will board kayaks, brave the San Juan Rapids and follow the river downstream to Rancho Cordova. Thousands of supporters, onlookers and volunteers traditionally cheer athletes through all stages. Après-race celebrations will include live music, food trucks and a beer garden beside the River Bend Park finish line.

Entry in the Great American Triathlon costs $40 for athletes 18 and under; $150 for adult competitors; junior relay is $110; adult relay is $225. Tandem water craft admission is $300. Contestants may use rented kayaks. For information, go to www.greatamericantriathlon.com

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