Those Honored Truly Placed Service Before Self
PROVO, UTAH—March 27, 2023—The Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce today revealed its Pillar of the Valley Gala is nearing sellout, but a few tickets remain available for public purchase. Dr. Richard P. Nielsen will receive the honor during the annual Gala on April 12, 2023, at the Utah Valley Convention Center. Gail Halvorsen will receive the honor posthumously.
“We are so pleased to join the chorus of those served by the lives of these great men,” states Curtis Blair, Utah Valley Chamber President. “Both Dr. Nielsen and Col. Halvorsen are rare builders of this valley as well as their global community. While so many get distracted by the pompous pride so prevalent as success is achieved, Richard and Gail stayed focused on leaving their community and the world a better place for posterity.”
From the white snow-capped peaks of Kilimanjaro and Utah Valley to the White House, Dr. Richard P. Nielsen’s impact has spanned the globe. The proverbial moss has not had a chance to grow around him, as his lifetime achievement and philanthropic work moves at Mach 1 speed.
Dr. Nielsen’s legendary leadership and vision for healthcare grew a 1998 Utah Valley graduate healthcare education startup into a US DOE accredited Rocky Mountain University (RMU) with dozens of doctoral, masters, certificate and continuing education offerings benefiting hundreds of employees, thousands of graduates, millions of patients and launching stellar careers. Dr. Nielsen retired as President/CEO of RMU in 2022 after 27 years at the helm.
As a pilot in the Berlin Airlift in 1948, Gail Halvorsen noticed children pressing against a fence adjacent the airport, watching the incoming airplanes. After talking with and answering the children’s questions, Gail shared all he had–two sticks of gum–through the fence. He was amazed at how the children divided the gift among others, even if just for a turn smelling the gum wrapper. Moved by the plight of these little ones, Gail resolved to drop candy to the children during his daily flights. He told the children that he would wiggle his plane’s wings the next day to alert them to watch for the treats. Hence began the legend of ‘Uncle Wiggly Wings’.
Halvorsen’s "Operation Little Vittles" gained international attention and raised the morale of the Berliners during the blockade by the Soviet Union. He received sacks of mail from thankful children in Berlin and the United States. During the Airlift, over 23 tons of candy were dropped and delivered to the children and residents of Berlin. The Berlin Airlift changed the course of history in Europe after WWII, as former enemies became friends and Russian expansion was halted.
Limited public seating for the gala may be reserved HERE. Those wishing to donate to causes dear to the heart of this year’s recipients may visit World of Difference (Nielsen) and the Gail S. Halvorsen Foundation.
About Pillar of the Valley
The Pillar of the Valley award gala honors individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the business, civic, social, educational, and cultural climate of Utah Valley. The gala is one of Utah’s premier annual social events, attracting hundreds of key Utah business, civic, and religious leaders. Those honored inspire others to rise as pillars in their own areas of influence.
PilmerPR, a Benefit LLC