About 15 years ago, a friend of mine needed someone to drive his car across the country. I had some time off, and offered to make the trip. I didn’t realize it would be the most memorable trip of my life.
I made a point to use back roads for much of the trip, driving all the way from Annapolis, Maryland, to Seattle, Washington. Along the way, I stopped at as many national parks as I could. And I loved that feeling of freedom, all that time to myself experiencing the great parks of our nation.
I saw the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Grand Teton, and Mount Rainier. I stayed in a cabin in Yellowstone right near Old Faithful, and watched through my window as the geyser shot up, over and over again into the air. Also on that trip I went to my favorite park for the very first time—Glacier National Park. Glacier is vast and beautiful, and that incredible Montana sky is like nothing else in the world.
I hope every American can have the opportunity to experience our national parks. That’s why I decided to leave a gift to the National Park Foundation. It feels good to know that part of my lasting legacy will be to keep our parks beautiful for generations to come.
For me, I’m anxious to get back to Glacier, because the glaciers are disappearing. But, since my cancer diagnosis, I haven’t been able to travel as much. So I really appreciate the webcams at Glacier and other parks. I can watch the snowflakes fall in Montana from my home in Florida. And when I’m able to plan another trip, I look forward to going back out to Glacier, or even all the way out to Denali National Park in Alaska.
I have always felt rejuvenated and free in our national parks. And I believe everyone should be fortunate enough to experience these places. So, I named the National Park Foundation as the beneficiary of my 401(k) plan. It was so easy—all I had to do was fill out a form and sign my name. And because no taxes are due on a gift to the Foundation, I’ll get more bang for my buck.
With all the funding challenges the National Park Service faces, I believe it’s more important than ever for private citizens like me to contribute what they can to support our parks.