Raffle will raise money for Hyland Teen Center
Sept. 8, 2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the original “Star Trek.” Although the science-fiction TV series only had modest ratings during its original run, it eventually became a pop culture phenomenon, spawning five new TV series (with another coming in 2017), 13 feature length movies and a vast array of merchandise.
Benicia’s Zeppelin Comics will be celebrating this milestone with a three-day celebration at the store, hosted by the daughter of one of the original “Star Trek” cast members and featuring the viewing of her private collection. What’s more: proceeds from the event will go toward a good cause.
Deirdre Doohan Cruz is a Benicia resident and the daughter of James Doohan, who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, the Scottish engineer of the Starship Enterprise. According to Cruz, the character of Scotty was largely created by him, right down to the accent— Doohan was actually Canadian— and the name, with “Montgomery” being the surname of his maternal grandfather.
Doohan died in 2005, but the character he helped create remains a favorite among “Star Trek” fans. Scotty has even been portrayed by English actor Simon Pegg in the new J.J. Abrams-produced movies. Cruz said the latest installment, “Star Trek Beyond” brought her to tears because of how well the film honored the original cast, including her father.
Beyond acting, Cruz said Doohan had a lot of other hobbies as well.
“He loved to build furniture, he loved to sing and he loved to travel,” she said.
Doohan was also a big supporter of technology and children, which Cruz decided to use as an opportunity to raise money for the Kyle Hyland Foundation, an organization she is a board member of. The foundation, named after a Benicia teen who died by suicide in 2014, was established to raise awareness of teen suicide rates and provide a support network for teens suffering from anxiety or depression. In January, the foundation opened the Hyland Teen Center, which provides teens with a space to receive emotional support and also engage in activities such as table tennis, billiards, foosball, video games, playing instruments and creating art. There is even a study lounge for students to do homework.
The goal of the fundraiser is to bring more technology, such as printers and Chromebooks, to the center, which Cruz says will be very beneficial to the center’s visitors.
“We want the kids to be able to utilize that center to work on school projects if they need that, research, potentially resumes and looking for jobs,” she said. “Sometimes they have to go to different kids’ houses that they don’t know very well to try and work on a project that a teacher would give, and so we thought the center would be a great place where they could say ‘Hey, let’s meet at the teen center, and we can work on it together.’”
In the years Doohan worked on “Star Trek,” Cruz and her family had accumulated lots of memorabilia and had always wanted to find a way to share it with people. She met with Zeppelin Comics co-owner Natasha Curtis about the possibility of hosting a live viewing of Cruz’s collection, and they figured that it would also be a good way to tie it in with the fundraiser for the center.
The 50th anniversary celebration will kick off Sept. 8 with a private collection viewing event at Zeppelin Comics from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. after the store closes. Cruz will be showing off personal memorabilia, such as family photos, fanmade boots with the “Star Trek” emblem, parts of old scripts and even some props from the show such as a Tribble from the episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” This event is open to people who buy $20 or more in raffle tickets by Thursday, Sept. 1. A smaller display of collection items from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 9 and 2 to 4 p.m., Sept. 10 and 11. Cruz will be available during those times to answer questions, and the store will be selling raffle tickets.
Finally, at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, those who buy raffle tickets will be entered to win a limited edition director’s chair, signed by Doohan.
“When my dad was still alive, he had purchased 1,000 director’s chairs, and he used them mostly for fundraisers,” Cruz said. “The chair I’m raffling off is No. 166. It’s got his signature, and he signed every one of the 1,000 chairs.”
“It’s not a chair he used on the ‘Star Trek’ set,” she added. “It was definitely a purchase item that he signed so that we could use it for fundraising.”
Raffle tickets are $8 per ticket or three for $20. Participants do not need to be present to win, but non-present participants can opt to have the chair mailed to them at an additional cost. Zeppelin Comics is located at 191 East H St. For more information, visit zeppelincomics.com.