What words come to mind when you think of teenagers today? Do the words responsible, passionate, civic-minded, respectful and polite rise to the top? They would if you were thinking about the attendees of the NRA Youth Education Summit (Y.E.S.).
When I decided to attend and observe Y.E.S., I was looking for a program to continue on my father’s legacy. This is important to me because my father was my biggest inspiration in life. I want to honor his values in a way that inspires others to realize their full potential just as his values inspired me.
Life didn’t come easy to my father. He was on his own at the age of 14 and had to support himself. This only made him more determined than ever to make his own way. Success came to him throughout his life thanks to hard work and perseverance, and this recipe yielded a strong, self-made man. It also gave him a strong belief in the possibilities of youth, if effort and talent were applied in the right direction. When he passed away, I knew how fortunate I was to call Henry Beltz my dad. Then and there I swore to uphold the values that he instilled in me when I was young.
In a way, my visit to the Youth Education Summit started decades ago in the heart and mind of a small boy who would one day become my father. This boy would grow up to be a model citizen, a productive member of society and a role model to his own daughter. We need to bring up more young people with these values if our society and heritage of freedom are to flourish through the ages. That’s our responsibility to the youth of today.
So, decided during my visit in July 2015, my father’s values and legacy will now live on forever. It was then that I pledged to create an endowment in his name: The Mr. Thomas Henry Beltz Endowment for the NRA Youth Education Summit. This endowment will support the Y.E.S. program along with scholarships to deserving youth.
Coming into the NRA through my husband, who is an avid Second Amendment supporter, my first NRA Annual Meetings was in 2009, and I quickly realized that The NRA Foundation funds the very best educational programs in our country. They encourage all youth to participate and attempt to break down any barriers to entry, ensuring that those less fortunate—like my late father when he was a boy—can attend.
After my passing this endowment will be active. It is a joy to know I will be helping our youth with scholarships and life experiences that are in keeping with my father’s values—the same values that will shape the leaders of tomorrow. I challenge you now: Think about what you want to do with your life and what legacy you want to leave. The NRA Foundation has a way to help you make it happen.
The NRA Foundation is participating in the global #GivingTuesday campaign to help raise funds for Y.E.S. To donate, please visit friendsofnra.org/GivingTuesday.