Never Surrender: Mark Kelly Keynote Speech at The PPAI Expo 2012
There wasn't a dry eye in the house when Mark Kelly, astronaut, U.S. Navy captain, author and husband of congresswoman Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, read the "just in case our mission fails and I don't come home" letter he'd written to his wife, Gabby Giffords, prior to piloting the final mission of space shuttle Endeavour. He explained to the audience of distributors that for astronauts there is a 1 in 57 chance of not making it back from space travel. However, these are odds he is well aware of and has accepted in his line of work. His wife however, had the odds of survival thrust upon her when just four months prior to Endeavour's final lift-off, she was the victim of a failed assassination attempt. On this day, nearly one year ago, at the hands of the accused gunman Jared Loughner, Gabby suffered a gunshot wound to the head and six others were fatally wounded.
But Kelly didn't co-author their memoir (written with Giffords and Jeffery Zaslow), Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, or come to the PPAI Expo to speak to hundreds of industry professionals to express his anger, or linger on the tragedy that had occurred in their lives. He came to offer a message of hope and perseverance.
In an interview Kelly gave to the press yesterday morning, he noted what Gabby's advice to the industry would be, "[Gabby] would say, never give up, never surrender and that hard work does pays off." Kelly continued, "While the event itself is tragic, the book overall is really positive and inspirational. It's a chronicle of somebody who is overcoming a severe injury."
When Kelly was asked what the most important message he could convey to us was and what we should remember when trying to overcome tragedy or just the simple hurdles of daily life, Kelly paused and thought for a moment. "I think it's the notion of not letting one person, or one event ruin your life," he explained. "Gabby was a very positive person before this happened and she continues to be so today. She denies the acceptance of failure. And she reminds me of that everyday."