Better Makers: Adler Planetarium Honors NASA Space Pioneer James Lovell

The Adler Planetarium's 2018 Celestial Ball (Photos courtesy of the Adler Planetarium.)

To date, only 24 humans have traveled to the moon. Three of which have made the trek twice, with a local hero being the first to do so. Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr. has made his mark on our universe, flying into space four times.

“We were so curious, so excited about being at the Moon that we were like three school kids looking into a candy store window, watching those ancient old craters go by…” — James Lovell and Ron Stone, Apollo 8

Currently living in Lake Forest, Lovell is a close friend and contributor to the Adler Planetarium, whom honored him at this year’s Celestial Ball.

The Ball is the Adler Planetarium’s biggest fundraising event. The 2018 gala marked a milestone for the institution, raising over $2 million in support of its mission: to inspire exploration and understanding of our universe, specifically through the planetarium’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education programs.

Held by the Women’s Board, the gala hosted a sellout crowd of over 700 of Chicago’s business, civic, and philanthropic leaders who enjoyed an evening of dinner, drinks, and dancing under Adler’s stars.

The Sept. 8 event celebrated Capt. James Lovell, who was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award. As a former NASA astronaut, Naval Aviator, and retired Naval captain, Lovell has dedicated his life to space exploration. He is famously known for being the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, as well as the command module pilot of Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to enter lunar orbit.

Adler Planetarium: NASA Space Pioneer James Lovell

Commander of the Apollo 13 mission, Capt. James A. Lovell, Jr.

Lovell has been awarded both the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Preceding the Gala, Adler launched a campaign honoring Lovell, a lifetime trustee, in celebration of turning 90 years young. The Letters to Lovell campaign collected personal notes for the captain and his family recounting memories and words of admiration of how he has inspired others to reach their dreams. Letters came from all over the world. One note arrived from an 8-year-old who claims to be Lovell’s biggest fan. Hudson Lindich was the one to present his hero with the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Celestial Ball.

Lisa H. Bertagna and Mihra Seta were this year’s event co-chairs, along with the dinner chairs: Pradip K. Patiath and James J. O’Connor Jr.

The Adler recognized Magellan Corporation as the 2018 Corporate Partner Award honoree.

Adler Planetarium: Capt. Lovell accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award.

Capt. Lovell accepting his Lifetime Achievement Award. Pictured: letter writer and Lovell’s biggest fan Hudson Lindich, Capt. Lovell, Pradip Patiath and Meg Sauer.

Michelle Larson, Adler Planetarium President & CEO

Michelle Larson, Adler Planetarium President & CEO

The Women's Board of the Adler Planetarium

The Women’s Board of the Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium: Lisa Bertagna, Linda Celesia, Capt. Lovell, Mihra Seta, and Meg Sauer

Lisa Bertagna, Linda Celesia, Capt. Lovell, Mihra Seta, and Meg Sauer

Adler Planetarium: Science station experiments at the Celestial Ball

Science station experiments at the Celestial Ball

Adler Planetarium: Far Horizons

Impact: The Far Horizons high-altitude ballooning program brings real space exploration down to Earth and into the hands of students, volunteers, and the public. For over 10 years, the Adler has designed and built experiments with participants of all ages and sent them to the stratosphere aboard high-altitude balloons. Pictured: a team launching their balloon.

 

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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.