The Unsung Hero of the Overview Film Premiere

Written by Frank White on Monday, 21 January 2013.

When you watch the video of the event that was held at Harvard on December 7 to premiere the film “Overview,” you will see a number of people who helped to make it happen—Rob Neugeboren, Guy Reid, Ron Garan, Jeff Hoffman, Doug Trumbull, and me. There were others who do not appear, too numerous to name, who played important roles in making this event happen.

However, you won’t see the person who is, in my opinion, the unsung hero of the event—my wife Donna. That’s because Donna was too sick to attend, something I mentioned in my own short talk about the Overview Effect.

Donna suffers from a chronic illness called Crohn’s disease, with vascular complications resulting from the treatments she’s had. She had wanted to attend the event, and we had rented a room in the Charles Hotel the night before, so that it would be easy for her to get to it, or she would be close by if she couldn’t make it.

Anyway, what most people don’t know is that Donna was so sick she really should have been in the hospital that day. However, she had said over and over again to me, “I don’t care how sick I am, I’m not going to get in the way of your big event. Don’t even mention going to the hospital to me.”

I said okay, but it was difficult, because it was clear to me on the morning of December 7 that Donna was very unwell. Anyway, I did go through the day and into the evening as planned, and it was a great introduction of the film and of the Overview Effect idea.

The next morning, however, Donna was much worse and she told me to call an ambulance. We rushed her to the hospital, where she had surgery to open up blocked veins and insert three stents to prevent additional blockages.  She is much better now, but it is clear to me that her love for me and support for my work on the Overview Effect was all that kept her from going to the hospital much sooner.

This is not the first time that Donna has made sacrifices to allow me to speak at conferences or attend events connected with this work. In fact, she has been a strong supporter of anything connected with the Overview Effect and Overview Institute for nearly 20 years. I have told many people how much I appreciate her commitment, but it is time now to acknowledge her contribution to the world.

Thank you, my Donna!

About the Author

Frank White is the author of The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, first published in 1987 and re-issued in 1998. A member of the Harvard College Class of 1966, Frank graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, earning an MPhil in 1969. He is the author or co-author of eight additional books on space exploration and the future, including The SETI Factor; Decision: Earth; Think About Space and March of the Millennia (both with Isaac Asimov), The Ice Chronicles (with Paul Mayewski), and Space Stories (with Kenneth J. Cox and Robbie Davis-Floyd). He also contributed chapters on the Overview Effect to four recently published books on space exploration, Return to the Moon, Beyond Earth, Living in Space, and Space Commerce.

Frank has spoken at numerous conferences on space exploration and space development. In 1988, he delivered the keynote address at the International Space Development Conference in Denver. In 1989, he spoke at George Washington University to mark the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. He also delivered the keynote address at the first Overview Effect Conference in 2007.

In 2006, the Space Tourism Society awarded Frank a "Certificate of Special Recognition."

In 2008, Frank was one of the speakers at a session of the International Space Development Conference that launched the Overview Institute and announced the signing of the Overview Declaration.

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