The Challenger Challenge

by Roger Pynn


Anyone who lived in Central Florida remembers the exact spot where they were standing 25 years ago today when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded and left a looping day-long contrail in icy blue skies and an indelible mark on our memories.

Despite the grief, a small group of business leaders worked to create not just a memorial that came to be known as The Space Mirror, but also a lasting educational tribute in the form of the Astronaut’s Memorial Foundation.  Renowned Central Florida architect Alan Helman, then AT&T executive Randy Berridge, now of the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, former University of Central Florida VP Bob McGuiness and the late SunTrust executive David Walsh among others developed an ingenious funding mechanism we now take for granted … affinity license plates … and raised millions to see their dream come true.

Our firm was fortunate to have the opportunity to help them with the dedication and grand opening of this national monument to the Challenger Seven … and even won the highest honor in public relations for that work.  Looking back, I have to say the challenge was easy because we were given an incredibly positive story to tell that stands to this day as proof that actions speak louder than words.

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