As you well know, we have Star Trek: #TOS, Star Trek: #TNG, Star Trek: #DS9, Star Trek: #VOY, and Star Trek: #ENT. I’m going to propose we create the next journey ourselves, and call it Star Trek: #IRL. Read on, and you’ll see what I mean…
Sometimes an opportunity falls in your lap that’s just too much fun to pass up.
Yep, I’m talkin’ about a trip to Vegas, baby.
But this was no ordinary Vegas trip, nor was it simply about Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Las Vegas Convention, an annual Trek mecca that pretty much none of us would want to miss. I’m talking about the fun in the chance to help somebody get to the con who would never otherwise have gone.
When I met Scott Palm at Creation’s Seattle con in 2013, I saw only that he was a person paralyzed with cerebral palsy who has a much harder time simply existing than you or I will hopefully ever know, having only the use of one finger and communicating through a device that speaks for him. I began to reflect on the remarkable strength of character it must take to get through any given day, much less to venture out and do anything extra. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Scott was not someone to feel sorry for – but instead, someone to learn from and greatly respect.
What a very “Star Trek” lesson that is.
I kept in touch with Scott via email and phone, and in those weeks and months of getting to know him, I learned that he’s a business owner, training caregivers to work with disabled people. He’s dry-witted and can be very funny. And when Scott puts his mind to something within his reach, chances are, it will probably happen.
So when Scott asked me to help him put together a plan to attend the Vegas con, I was ready to help. I asked him to create a budget, which he did, stat. He researched fundraising sites and finally found the one that would take the least percentage. I researched several Make-A-Wish type foundations, and we made some approaches, but no luck. Scott received some money from family, but our combined total wasn’t nearly enough.
Then the company that makes his communication device offered to donate matching funds. So I put the word out to ChaseClub -- an extraordinarily loyal and sweet bunch -- and donations started rolling in.
More inspiring yet, Scott earned money to pitch in, traveling more than 200 miles around the state of Washington to give his disability awareness classes.
Scott took initiative to reserve flights, rooms, ground transport and necessary equipment for him and his caregivers. I helped him handle a few logistics…
And the fun began.
And what happened in Vegas isn’t staying in Vegas; in addition to great memories, Scott made a whole new group of friends, both in Vegas and online, through this process. I’ll let Scott tell you the bulk of the Vegas story in his own words, but I’ll leave you with this:
People ask me what I’m a geek about. And sometimes I feel left out of conversations in geekdom, because I don’t get a chance to watch every episode of any show, and there are lots of popular movies I miss. What do I love to geek out about? Lending a hand where I can.
Don’t get me wrong. Great stories are essential to our lives. But let’s not just watch them. Let’s make them come alive in real life. Let’s boldly go and do things that spread encouragement and healing, and that make life better for people who have it tough. You can do this, every day. To start, simply keep your eyes open.
Be the Captain of your own ship in this way, and I promise you, you’ll have voyages #IRL you will never forget.
BOLDLY GOING TO STAR TREK: LAS VEGAS
By Scott Palm
The Star Trek Las Vegas Convention 2014 was beyond everything I ever had read about previous years. This might be an obvious statement, because it was my first con in Las Vegas. As soon as I left the Vegas airport, I could feel the 100 degree heat, but I also could feel excitement.
When I arrived at the hotel, I was escorted to Chase Masterson’s Q & A. She was wonderful. But I am biased. I had met Chase on August 24, 2013 at Star Trek Seattle convention. My sister and I went to the convention because it was my belated birthday present. We were outside of the vendor’s room talking. Chase happened to be walking by, and my communication device caught her eye. She asked what it was, and I told her. From that chance meeting, we became friends.
At midnight, I attended a midnight premiere of a fan film. While I waited for it, I was people watching and who did I see? Michael Dorn! My caregiver and I freaked out. Rod Roddenberry walked right by me minutes later. My communication device caught his eye. I took the opportunity to ask him if he would have time next day for me to tell him something. He said yes.
The con was full of attendees and cosplayers. The sessions were interesting, and I had never seen so many stars in one place before.
I also spent sometime in the vendors’ room looking at the items and talking to the stars. One of them was Aron Eisenberg, who played Nog on Deep Space Nine. We spent a little while talking about how the software in my device works. Next, I got the honor to meet Max Grodenchik, who played Rom on Deep Space Nine. I had a unique request for him. My communication device has the ability to record phrases in human speech. Then I could find a way to use these phrases in my daily communication with people. I wanted Mr. Grodenchik to recreate his line at the end of the episode, “Dr. Bashir, I Presume,” where Leeta was going to leave the station forever, but Rom stopped her by saying, ”WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT!!! LEEEEETAAAA, WAIT!!” Max and I got a good recording. Now I need to find a use for it.
Then I went to a photo op with Kate Mulgrew. Janeway was like my grandmother. When I was born in Wisconsin, my doctor said I would get better care in Seattle. So my Grandmother and Grandfather packed up and moved with me. They didn’t know what to expect, just like Janeway, being far away from the Federation.
I also got to see Kate when she was in the dealers’ room…
I was returning to Chase’s table, but I saw James Darren, who played Tony on Time Tunnel and Vic on Deep Space Nine. I spent a few minutes talking to him. Then, I returned to my room to rest before a special dinner up in the VooDoo Lounge restaurant on top of The Rio Hotel. The view was out of this world. I have been to the observation level of the Space Needle many times, but this was better. I could see further.
Next day, my caregivers and I stopped and took pictures with people in costume.
Suddenly I saw Rod Roddenberry in the vendor’s room. With my new founded ease, I went right up to him and started talking to him. It was a lifelong personal goal of mine to tell one of the Roddenberrys what Star Trek meant to me. This was my chance. I programmed a message in my communication device and pressed “SPEAK.” I said, “I just wanted to let you know that Star Trek always has been there at bad times in my life. The characters have helped me to stay confident. I moved out of the nursing home in the 80s, and Star Trek was there. When I had a hard time figuring out things because I was out in the community, Star Trek was there. In February 2010, I got pneumonia and was in the hospital. The first night in ICU, everybody I know was there. I was opening my eyes and looking at people, but I wasn’t interacting. The doctor didn’t think I wasn’t going to make it. But then, I got this sense that Captain Kirk wouldn’t go out this way. My body started to fight back. So I would like to let you know this is what Star Trek means
From there, I went to William Shatner. It was the second time in a year I have seen him in person. The first time was in Seattle at his photo op. What had surprised me was that Shatner was funny.
But the highlight of my whole trip came on my last night in Vegas. I had dinner with Chase and two new friends. It was nice to able to eat and not hurry for a change. After dinner, we went to hear the “Star Trek Rat Pack.” I didn’t know these actors could sing – and they really could.
The Star Trek Las Vegas Convention 2014 was beyond everything that I ever had read, all right. It had benefits I never could think of. I achieved my personal goals, made new friends and created many good memories.
Scott’s caregiver, Nicollette Cook, summed up Scott’s experience:
“Having the privilege of supporting Scott during the Star Trek convention was a reaffirmation of everything we do as caregivers. Our goal is always to do the best we can to further the potential and independence of those we serve. Scott, with the help of Chase Masterson, was able to come up with the goal of going to the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas. Chase's friendship, encouragement, and help, as well as the support of his staff, made it clear to Scott that his goal was something he could achieve.
Hopefully, Scott’s experience will help remind others that having disabilities does not mean that you can only do certain things. It may mean that you will need a little help, but the most important thing you need is the desire to reach your goals.”