Mark Kelly has spent more than 50 days in space and commanded both the Space Shuttle Endeavour, including its final flight in May 2011, and Space Shuttle Discovery.
He is one of only two individuals who have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.
He is also a #1 New York Times best-selling author and a founder of World View Enterprises, a company pioneering a new frontier at the edge of space.
But in his keynote speech, he spent as much time talking about his wife. You might know her as former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who on January 8, 2011, was the victim of an assassination attempt in Tucson, Arizona, where she was meeting with constituents at a Safeway supermarket. Giffords was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head, and six were killed and 13 others injured.
Giffords was taken to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, where she underwent months of training just to relearn how to walk, speak, read, and write. Seven months later, she made her first public appearance, voting on the House floor in favor of raising the debt limit ceiling. Two months after that, she presented Kelly with the Distinguished Flying Cross medal at his retirement ceremony.
Kelly believes focus equals success—even in the face of adversity. And he has seen that from Giffords’ remarkable recovery.
“Despite a bullet through her head, it hasn’t put a dent in her spirit and her desire to make the world a better place,” Kelly said.
He said she couldn’t accompany him to the convention, but she gave him this message to relay to the attendees: “Be bold, be courageous, be your best.”
Kelly said he has learned so much from his wife. She certainly has exemplified boldness and courage. He thinks back to the hearing where she faced the gunman, Jared Lee Loughner, for the first time since the attack. She spoke directly to Loughner for 20 minutes.
“My wife said she would trade her life to bring back any of the six individuals, especially 9-year-old Christina Green, who was born on 9/11 and had a high-minded idea about service and democracy, and had devoted her entire life to advancing that,” he said. “She wanted to ask Gabby a question about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. She was next in line, and they never met.” ♦
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