Crowds lined up at the Purdue Federal Credit Union exhibit to meet legendary astronaut Jerry Ross. The Crown Point native and joint world record holder for most space flights signed autographs and took photos with fans of all ages at the Lake County Fair on Wednesday. Purdue Federal Credit Union sponsored the occasion, deeming it Purdue Federal Day at the fair.
Carrie North, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, and Lindsey Kilty, Community Relations Specialist at Purdue Federal, talked about the importance of community, plus their hopes of visitors leaving their exhibit with a better understanding of the differences between a credit union and a traditional bank.
“We wanted to get involved with the fair because the credit union as a whole is very focused on our community,” North said. “We knew this was a great way to reach the people of Lake County and get to know the Crown Point community a little better.”
Celebrating its 50th year, the non-profit, financial co-op recently opened its first Lake County location in Crown Point.
“We’re excited to come to the Crown Point area,” Kilty said. “Everyone has been so warm and welcoming—today couldn’t have been a better day.”
President and CEO of Purdue Federal, Bob Falk, was excited to be at the Lake County Fair for the first time.
“We wanted to introduce ourselves to the community and this seemed like a great way to expose the organization to the community,” Falk said. “This is where the community connects—everyone comes to [the county fair] and it’s so neat to see so many people gathering for this event.”
Purdue Federal has worked with many of Purdue University’s notable alumni such as Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, and several famous astronauts including Ross. The credit union enlisted Ross as a spokesperson nearly six years ago. When they announced the move to Crown Point, it made sense that Ross was the first person they called.
“I’ve always admired [Purdue Federal Credit Union]. I think they’ve always done a nice job of representing not only their organization but Purdue University,” Ross said. “They offer some good programs for alums, so I thought it was a nice mix between the association and getting to know the nice folks in the credit union.”
Ross graduated from Purdue University and went into active duty for the United States Air Force in 1972, where hegraduated at the top of his class from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. He then became the flight test engineer for the coveted B-1 Bomber, which gave him enough experience to apply and become an astronaut in 1980. The first and only one of two people ever to complete seven space missions, Ross retired in 2012 and travels the country as a motivational speaker for young kids.
“I feel like God designed me to do what I did, and I feel every young person has a unique set of likes, talents, capabilities, and dislikes that makes them especially suited for a certain type of career path,” Ross said. “If they can figure out what that is and tailor their lives toward that, then they’re going to love what they’re doing and feel like they’ve never had to work a day in their lives.”
Mick Fesko, an attendee and fan of Jerry Ross, brought along his grandson to hear the talk Ross gave in the 4-H building.
“I’ve been following space [exploration] for all my years, and my grandson knows who Jerry Ross is, too,” Fesko said. “He wants to get a picture to take home and show his teacher.”
Purdue Federal Credit Union is open to anyone affiliated with the 150+ organizations they partner with and affiliates of Purdue University. For a limited time, they are offering $250 to anyone in the Lake County community who opens a new checking account with direct deposit, paperless statements, and a debit card.
For more information about the special offer visit, www.purduefed.com/bonus.