Delaware North to host retired U.S. Navy Capt. and former astronaut Eugene Cernan
BUFFALO, N.Y. (April 18, 2008) – Delaware North Companies, a global leader in hospitality and food service and award-winning operator of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, is proud to host retired U.S. Navy Capt. and former NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan for its Earth Day events in Buffalo, N.Y. As the last man on the moon, Cernan has a unique perspective on the importance of caring for our planet.
Cernan is scheduled to meet with children at two local schools and with Delaware North employees at the company’s global headquarters. The man who is known best for his role as commander of Apollo 17, the spacecraft that made the United States’ final mission to the moon, will speak about his many accomplishments, the importance of the space program and the need to protect Earth.
Delaware North invited Cernan to Buffalo to kick off Nichols School’s construction of an eco-friendly academic building. The Jacobs family, which owns Delaware North, is contributing $1 million toward the new building that will employ principles of the company’s award-winning GreenPath® environmental stewardship program.
Jeremy Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Delaware North, along with his sons – Lou, Jerry Jr. and Charlie, all executive vice presidents of the company and alumni of Nichols – will present the check to Nichols Headmaster Rick Bryan. Nichols will be hosting a variety of special Earth Day activities to celebrate the donation and the visit of the space hero.
Cernan will then travel downtown to Delaware North’s global headquarters at 40 Fountain Plaza, where he will speak to thousands of employees in person and via audio conferencing with the company’s 200 locations worldwide. Later in the day he will visit with students at Orchard Park’s South Davis Elementary School in suburban Buffalo.
A veteran of four manned space flights, Cernan is now retired from his careers with the U.S. Navy and NASA. He has participated in a number of programs that Delaware North has developed for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, one of the special places at which the company operates.
In 1995, Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts entered into an agreement with NASA to operate the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. At the time, the visitor complex, which was established in the 1960s, was an impressive warehouse of memorabilia and artifacts.
Delaware North was steadfast in its belief that it could help NASA better share the story of U.S. space exploration. Through an investment of more than $200 million, Delaware North has worked with NASA to enhance the physical structure, build new exhibits and increase attendance.
The results have garnered accolades, awards and national recognition for Delaware North and for the property, which Cernan points out “is the only place from which human beings have left to call another part of the universe home.”
“We looked around and thought, ‘What if people could come face to face with the story of the greatest technological feat in the history of the universe? What if kids could meet astronauts and hear about their experiences – their challenges as well as their triumphs – and see the space program come to life before their eyes?’ ” said Rick Abramson, Delaware North’s first operating officer at the visitor complex and current president of Delaware North Companies Sportservice.
Abramson and Kevin Kelly, president of Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, will emcee the Earth Day program for Delaware North employees.
Cernan credits Delaware North not only with improving the visitor complex, which he refers to as a “historical monument,” but also with helping to change NASA’s public image.
“For many years before Delaware North, NASA had a visitor center, but there were so many things that couldn’t be seen or touched. Delaware North, led by Rick (Abramson), changed the face of NASA by doing what most people didn’t think could be done,” he said.