HOUSTON – American veterans have never been known to back off when the going gets tough.
The Houston Solar Car program received a check for $10,000 recently from Mississippi VFW for their work in promoting the state and their desire to stay on the cutting edge of technology.
“We are all about veterans, veteran’s families and the community,” said Frank Organ, Mississippi VFW Junior Commander. “We couldn’t think of a better program that reflected those ideas than Houston’s solar car.”
Frank Pemper, Commander of VFW Post 7149 in Houston, said the local post was one of the first sponsors of the solar car when the idea was first hatched almost 15 years ago.
“Hubert Baird was approached by Houston High School electricity class instructor Keith Reese about building a solar car and entering a race,” said Pemper. “Baird actually built the car from scratch to make sure it would work. The kids were brought in and shown the car and then Baird took it apart and told them to build one of their own.”
They did and Houston solar car teams have gone on to win 13 consecutive national titles and have also raced internationally.
Pemper said the local post and local veterans have been a proud sponsor each year.
Kristen Black, Houston Solar Car Team President said this donation will go a long way toward helping the team travel and compete in the annual solar car race this summer in Texas.
“This is a huge donation and more than we ever thought we could get in one check,” said Black. “We want to thank the state VFW and our local posts for this. This will help us do so much with our car and carry this team to Texas.”
Black pointed out a lack of funding prompted the Houston Solar Car Team to carry only one car to last summer’s race.
“The community may not know that we didn’t get to carry our girl’s solar car to Texas last summer and that disappointed me,” said Black. “This is my senior year and we are carrying two cars to Texas this summer. Again, I can’t thank our local veterans enough for this donation.”
The donation was actually sparked by a public appearance to the Columbus VFW set up by Pemper.
“Frank told us about this team and we invited them to come and make a presentation to our post,” said Don Francisco, Commander of VFW Post 4772 of Columbus. “We were so impressed with the kids’ knowledge of this technology. We decided to do all we could to help these kids and got the wheels to rolling.”
Organ was given a ride on the solar tricycle last week.
“I had only heard about this program, but when you see what these kids are doing, it’s just incredible,” said Organ. “I am very impressed and this will be good exposure for the State of Mississippi and also show how VFW members continue to give back to their communities every day.”
The Houston Solar Car Team has its technology base in the Houston School of Science and Technology Electricity program. Students who take this class can be nominated to participate on the Solar Car Team.
Team members are expected to exhibit a high level of commitment to the program and are required to raise much of their own financial support to travel to the annual Solar Car Challenge based in Dallas.
The Solar Car Challenge features a closed circuit speed event at Texas Motor Speedway every other year. The Solar Car Challenge goes on the road in subsequent years and last year raced from Fort Worth to Los Angeles.
The Solar Car Challenge was established in 1993 to help motivate students in science and engineering and to increase alternative energy awareness. The Challenge teaches high school students around the world how to build roadworthy solar cars.
As with most racing sponsorships, supporters of the Houston Solar Car program can have their name or company logo put on the car.
For information about supporting Houston Solar Car, contact the Houston School of Science and Technology at 456-3748.