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Space station astronaut, doctor for homeless to speak at prayer breakfast

The 15th annual Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast, “The Joy of Serving,” is scheduled 7-8:30 a.m. March 12 at the Marriott Hotel in Santa Clara.

This year’s speakers are NASA astronaut Col. Rex J. Walheim and Dr. Cheryl Ho, medical director for the Valley Homeless Healthcare Program.

“In light of the recent economic downturn, people are searching for hope and inspiration,” said Los Altos resident Skip Vaccarello, chairman of the event’s steering committee. “Based on the caliber of speakers and the opportunity for networking, we expect that the event will sell out this year, and that those in attendance will be inspired by stories of personal fulfillment that comes from service to others.”

Walheim has completed two space flights, his most recent in February 2008. On that mission, he and fellow crewmembers visited the International Space Station, traveled more than 5 million miles in 203 orbits and took three space walks. His previous mission in 2002 marked the first time the station’s robotic arm was used to maneuver spacewalkers around the station.

Walheim, a Bay Area native, graduated from San Carlos High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC Berkeley. He was commissioned in the Air Force and earned a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Houston.

In his talk, Walheim will discuss the unique path that led him from the Bay Area to outer space.

Ho heads a nationally recognized program that provides medical and psychiatric care to the homeless of Santa Clara County. As program director, Ho said she considers it a privilege and honor to serve the most vulnerable members of Silicon Valley.

Ho and her team care for the chronically homeless, individuals with drug and alcohol addiction, the mentally ill, runaway youth and migrant farm workers.

She is co-founder and president of the Silicon Valley Christian Health Alliance, a faith-based non-profit that provides medical and dental care at CityTeam Ministries in San Jose to the homeless and those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

In addition, Ho is a clinical instructor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

She earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford and her doctorate from UC San Diego Medical School.

Ho will share thoughts about the journey that has brought her to work in her current positions.

The prayer breakfast, initially organized by Los Altos area volunteers, is designed to introduce faith and prayer as vital elements of a meaningful life.

The first prayer breakfast was held at the Los Altos Golf & Country Club. To accommodate a larger audience, the next 11 breakfasts took place at Hyatt Rickey’s in Palo Alto. When Rickey’s was demolished in late 2005, the event moved to the Marriott in Santa Clara.

“It has been a distinct privilege to be a part of the group over the years,” said Tom Gutshall, Los Altos resident and event organizer. “We have been blessed with superb speakers – and this year will serve as a high water mark for us. The growth of the attendance from 100-110 attendees to our expected crowd of 400 is also indicative of the commitment and dedication of those who have served on the committee over the years.

“We have been able to now establish both a legacy and a community purpose for the event. The sharing of one’s faith and dependence upon prayer in a seeker-friendly environment is an outstanding venue to allow others to see just how God works in our lives if we will allow Him.”

The Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast is part of the Altos Christian Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Cost is $35 per person, $350 for a table of 10.

For tickets and more information, call 963-4899 or visit svpb.net.

 

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