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Jacksonville Nonprofit Will Honor Former NASA Astronaut


A nonprofit dedicated to providing accessible dental and primary medical care plans to honor former NASA Astronaut Dr. Norman Thagard in Jacksonville this Tuesday.

The commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Thagard’s return from the Russian Mir 18 mission will serve as a fundraiser for Community Health Outreach.

Thagard grew up in Jacksonville, and this will be his first public appearance here since he returned from space.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Thagard talked about space exploration.

“I’d like to see us continue to look outward to other planets, to go back to the moon, and certainly to go to Mars,” Thagard said. “It is not good, I think, to have humans solely dependent on one planet. If something were to happen to the Earth, then that would be the end of us as a species.”

Community Health Outreach will donate any funds from the events to its new Healing Hands Clinic, which offers free dental care to low-income adults in Duval County.

Thagard says he wants to support these kinds of initiatives when there are people who are don’t have the opportunities to receive this kind of care.

“Dental care is important,” Thagard said. “Folks can definitely develop a number of medical diseases with poor dental care.”

The first celebration and luncheon will begin at noon at the Crowne Plaza near the Jacksonville Airport. The evening reception will begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum of Science and History.

More information about how to purchase tickets for the event is available through the Community Health Outreach website.

Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Norm Thagard on Monday’s episode of the “First Coast Connect” podcast oniTunes.