By Denise Gary
Photographs © William Russell, Kelly Schlereth, and Denise Gary

I had the great pleasure of visiting Marshfield, Missouri and its friendly inhabitants when I attended the Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative dinner during the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The Hubble Medal was bestowed upon me, PJ Haarsma, and Nathan Fillion for our work in founding Kids Need to Read to provide literacy resources to disadvantaged children and adolescents throughout the United States. The award is Marshfield’s highest honor and is presented annually to those who have shown great initiative in their lifetime. The award and accompanying dinner is named in honor of Marshfield’s native son and namesake of the Hubble Space Telescope, Edwin Powell Hubble (1889-1953).

It was incredibly moving and quite a surprise to receive this award, as one never thinks of receiving accolades while focused on building support for a cause. The experience was made all the more enjoyable by the welcoming Marshfield townsfolk. Kate Bryce cheerfully took time out of her schedule to take me to eat some great southern cooking and show me the town square, including a replica of the Hubble Telescope. The unseasonably warm spring caused the cherry trees to bloom early, so they were already cloaked in green during the festival. No matter; it all looked gorgeous to me, as I am used to a decidedly less lush environment in Mesa.

After my local touring escapade, I joined PJ Haarsma at the Hubble Award dinner.

© William Russell

There we met Kelly Schlereth, who traveled with her husband to the event in support of KNTR and presented us with scrapbook pages to commemorate the event. Kelly took photos and video of the proceedings for us (simultaneously!), for which I am so grateful!

© Kelly Schlereth

Marie Bruno, the first cousin of President William J. Clinton, introduced the dinner attendees to me, PJ, Nathan (absent), and Kids Need to Read.

© Kelly Schlereth

The awards were presented by Edwin P. Hubble’s nephew John Lane and festival organizer Reverend Nicholas Inman.

© Kelly Schlereth

I could not resist looking down at the medal hanging around my neck as PJ began his acceptance speech. After working five years to build Kids Need to Read, it was a huge thrill to witness recognition for the organization I love so dearly and its efforts to promote childhood literacy.

© Kelly Schlereth

PJ has a fantastic sense of humor, so it was no surprise his acceptance speech elicited a great deal of laughter. I actually saw someone slapping their knee!

© William Russell

My speech evoked tears from some audience members as I tried to impart the depth of my passion for Kids Need to Read and the honor I feel over sharing space on a list that embraces one of my biggest heroes, Lady Bird Johnson. Past Hubble honorees include many United States presidents and several great social reformers, but Lady Bird holds a very special significance for me. Take a look at the video of our speeches (above) to find out why and to have a few laughs, as well.

© William Russell

After all the medals were presented and the speeches delivered, some down-home fun was spun as the cherry pie contest entries were auctioned to raise funds for future Cherry Blossom Festivals.

I was graced with a slice of delicious, award-winning pie, which may have been the greatest honor of all, considering its winning bid came in at over $100!

Denise with Kate Bryce and Reverend Inman. © Denise Gary

Nathan Fillion was unable to attend the ceremony, but PJ delivered his medal upon his return to Los Angeles.

Many thanks to Reverend Nicholas Inman, Kate Bryce, Marie Bruno, John Lane, and the kind folks of Marshfield, Missouri. I hope to return someday as a past honoree . . . and to see those cherry trees in bloom!

Photo Gallery: Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative


13 Responses to “KNTR Founders Awarded Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative”

  1. Kcat on June 12th, 2012 10:28 pm

    Congratulations Denise, PJ, and Nathan!

    What a wonderful, and well-deserved, honor. I’m so thrilled for all of you and the recognition you are receiving for all you do to help kids read. I am grateful to you for all the awesomeness you give to the world!

    Love, Kcat

  2. Denise Gary on June 12th, 2012 10:32 pm

    Thanks so much, Kcat! 🙂

  3. Rose-Marie Gazagnaire on June 13th, 2012 2:50 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: such a well deserved recognition that of all the hard work, dedication and true love going into the cause of children at KNTR ! You guys are awesome, Denise, PJ and Nathan of course, but not only. My congratulations go to ALL of you at KNTR, for whatever the amount of work or time is involved, at the origin is a big golden heart and the will to fully embrace a wonderful cause. Well done, and thank you ! Love from France. Rose xxx

  4. Denise Gary on June 13th, 2012 8:58 am

    Thank you for your continuing support, Rose! We always enjoy your letters from France! 🙂

  5. Kcat on June 13th, 2012 9:32 am

    I love how your medal ceremony reminds me of the one at the end of “Star Wars: A New Hope.” I can hear John William’s stirring music score every time I look at your pictures. Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia would all be proud of you! I am, too!

  6. Meg Anderson on June 17th, 2012 12:11 am

    Than is SO AWESOME!! Congrats to you guys for a job well done!!!

  7. Denise Gary on June 26th, 2012 11:52 pm

    Thanks so much, Meg! 🙂

  8. Orlando Dillon on July 23rd, 2012 11:28 am


  9. Denise Gary on July 23rd, 2012 1:23 pm

    Thank you, Orlando! 🙂

  10. Karen Gore on August 2nd, 2012 12:40 pm


    What a great article! Thank you so much for attending the 2012 Marshfield Cherry Blossom Festival with PJ this year. I enjoy so much getting to meet people every year at the festival and hearing their stories. It is inspirational to see the great good that people can accomplish. Congratulations on the award, it is well deserved.

    Karen, Marshfield Cherry Blossom Webmaster

  11. Denise Gary on August 6th, 2012 3:41 pm

    Thank you so much, Karen! It was such a great honor for us all! I hope to return one day for a visit.


  12. Felicia on November 21st, 2012 12:10 pm


    I was wondering if you had John Lane’s email contact information. I wanted to know if he has participated in the familytreedna project. I am a Hubble trying to see if we are related as distant cousins.

    If you could forward this to him that would be greatly appreciated.

    Thx kindly. Nov 21, 12

  13. Denise Gary on November 22nd, 2012 8:42 pm


    I am very sorry, but we do not have John Lane’s email address. You could try to contact him through the festival’s organizers: 417-859-2460.

    Good luck,


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