Monday, September 29, 2008

When "Challenger" Flies ...

I recently received a music video in an e-mail from a friend and thought it worthy of sharing ... especially in light of all the challenges our beloved country is facing these days.

This awe-inspiring video features a special free-flying Bald Eagle named "Challenger" ... and this is his story.

[Photo by Eleanor Davies, AEF]

In early 1989, Challenger was blown from a wild nest as a baby during a storm, and was hand raised by the people who found him. Unfortunately, he experienced too much human contact at a very young age and became highly "human-socialized." As a result, Challenger thinks he's a person, and cannot survive on his own in the wild.

He was released into the wild twice during the summer of 1989. After his second release into the wild, Challenger was rescued from a close encounter with death. He had landed near a man to beg for food, and was almost beaten up by that person with a stick. Another man was Challenger's" guardian angel that day. He stopped the stick-wielding man from doing bodily harm to the eagle. This had been the third time Challenger had sought out people looking for food when he became hungry, so he was declared "non-releasable" by federal and state wildlife authorities and placed under the care of the American Eagle Foundation.

He was named "Challenger," in honor of the crew of the space shuttle, and was trained to perform educational free-flight demonstrations at high profile public events. He has been making appearances throughout the country since 1993, along with Al Cecere, founder and president of the American Eagle Foundation, which is headquartered at the Dollywood entertainment park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Acting as an ambassador for his species, Challenger has raised a great level of national public awareness about the need to restore and protect America's eagles, natural resources, and environment. The bald eagle is still a "threatened" species throughout the lower 48 states, and much of its nesting and feeding habitat is being encroached upon by humans.

Challenger is the first bald eagle in U.S. history trained to free-fly into major league sports stadiums during the presentation of the National Anthem. He has flown before four American presidents and participated in five MLB World Series, three NFL Pro-Bowls, the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, and 2005 NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Tournament, as well as hundreds of high profile patriotic events.

His life story is told in a children's storybook titled, Challenger, America's Favorite Eagle, written by Margot Theis Raven.

Here is the video showing Challenger in flight. So, turn up your speakers, click the arrow below, and be prepared for chill bumps, teary eyes, and a heart filled with love for this great country of ours ... and for a magnificent and endearing eagle called Challenger ...


Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Hi Janie,
This is a beautiful post. I'm glad I looked at it before getting my makeup on this morning.

I too am worried about our country. I look in the eyes of my grandkids and can't help but worry about what kind of life they will have. This is a beautiful story....and one that is truly worthy. I'm going to send a link in some emails to you later today.

Hope you have a great day,

Picket said...

What a glorious post heart swelled up and tears filled my eye...oh if people only realized how blessed we truly are in this beautiful country we call America...great post my friend....hope you have a beautiful week!

nikkicrumpet said...

Wow...what a marvelous post. I too am worried about the state this country is in. But am still so very proud to live in this great nation! Eagles are so beautiful and majestic and what a service Challenger is providing. Very cool!

Anonymous said...

Hi Janie! What an uplifting video! It's amazing how majestic these birds are; The close ups brought a tear of pride!!! Thanks for this post! Have a great night - Sincerely, Jeannette (I'm taking a break from my dining room and bloggin around!lol)

Tracey said...