If You’re Going to Accept a ‘Final Mission,’ Make it a Great One

By J.F. McKenna

On the bus home at day’s end, Patty Corcoran, a St. Ignatius School classmate, chatted frequently about TV’s Star Trek. She could talk incessantly about the sci-fi series, about Captain James Kirk, about intergalactic travel, and about Kirk’s second-in-command, an annoyingly precise spaceman who was half-human and half-Vulcan.

“Spock is very cool,” I recall Patty saying on the No. 22 bus, whose own journey ended daily at the West Park transit station. “He’s got this Vulcan Salute—Live long and prosper! Really cool!” I myself couldn’t mimic the salute separating the two middle fingers; nor did I care that much about it. My grandest 13-year-old accomplishment was not getting caught executing the one-finger salute known throughout America. Such was the convergence of two different worlds in 1966 Cleveland.

As generations of TV and movie viewers now know, Spock and Company didn’t stay moored in the ‘60s. The Star Trek phenomenon, as fiction and as the inspiration of actual new-world seekers, has continued unto this day. And all along the journey has been Spock himself—the actor and artistic polymath Leonard Nimoy.

The end of February marks the one-year anniversary since the death of the legendary actor who surrendered to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a type of obstructive lung disease characterized by chronically poor airflow that typically worsens over time. The main symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and sputum production. Most people with chronic bronchitis, it is said, have COPD.

COPD affects more than 30 million Americans, making it the third leading cause of death. Surprisingly, more than a third of these Americans suffer the symptoms of the disease – coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and breathlessness – without ever being diagnosed.

As Spock would say, this is “highly illogical”—since early detection and treatment can reduce suffering and extend lives.

Nimoy’s daughter, Julie, and her husband, David Knight, are determined to continue the actor’s “final mission” to raise awareness about COPD, currently producing a new documentary titled COPD: Highly Illogical: A Special Tribute to Leonard Nimoy. Here is a mission that will conclude only with the last patient.

“The film is going to be an intimate look at my father’s life, legacy, and his final years advocating for greater awareness around COPD,” Ms. Nimoy said. “My Dad felt an urgent responsibility to educate people about it, frequently tweeting and speaking about the disease and its causes.”

The couple launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo last month to raise the additional $150,000 required to produce the documentary. They are hopeful of securing the funding by mid-March so that the film can be released near Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary later this summer.

To view the documentary film trailer and to link to the Indiegogo funding page, go to www.copdllap.com. For a direct link to the funding page, go to https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/copd-highly-illogical-a-tribute-to-leonard-nimoy#/.

If you’re going to accept a “final mission,” make it a great one: this the Nimoy-Knight Clan has done. Nimoy and Knight’s mission is as iconic as the decades-long role Leonard Nimoy played as executive officer of the Starship Enterprise. The only difference is that it’s not playacting.

Which prompts the age-old Latin expression—Ad Astra Per Aspera. “Through hardship through the stars” is a perfect saying for the man best known as Spock.

CBR contributor J.F. McKenna, a longtime West Park resident, is a business journalist, former magazine editor, and marketing-communications consultant. McKenna and his wife, Carol, now live in Steeler Country with their dog, Lord Max. Reach him at jfmckwriter23@yahoo.com

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