Orval Hart Receives Community Asset Award

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOrval Hart has been presented with a mid-year Community Asset Award. He is pictured here at the award ceremony after the won the cycling road race at the World Senior Games in 2009. Hart also won first place overall. Courtesy photo

OH1Orval Hart in his Civil Air Patrol uniform. Courtesy photo

Executive Director
Champions of Youth Ambitions

I always believe in admitting when you make a mistake. We all make them, so admit it, apologize and set to make things right. If it becomes a habit and part of your character, apologizing won’t be an insurmountable obstacle.

During 2019, Champions of Youth Ambitions regular Jackie Hurtle nominated someone for a Community Asset Award. The local non-profit has recognized folks annually since 2009. When the nomination was made, unfortunately I titled the file 2020, The awards are generally held in January of February for the previous year. When the list came out one of the nominees was missing.

I began to conspire with the YMCA’s Rob Wilkinson for a surprise recognition. It would take us a while, but a plan was underway. Then the world changed and plan B would be to find the nominee, apologize for my error, and invite him to the next ceremony. One reason being my error and the second because the community needs some good news.

I am thrilled to say White Rock resident, Orval Hart was not mad at me. I asked him a few questions, then planned a doorstep, contactless delivery. One of my favorite things to know is your favorite cookie so the gift idea was brewing exponentially.

During high school, Hart was a day camp counselor for the Pasadena YMCA, and for the Alhambra YMCA. That was back in the days when a leader might take 10-12 kids on sight-seeing tours of Los Angeles, constantly counting to see that you still have everyone, or camping in the mountains. 

He graduated high school in 1957 and spent three years in the Army, which he believes prepared him for college at California Polytechnic, Pomona, Calif. He learned computers on the college’s first computer and made a career out of it. He worked at the Jet Propulsion Lab with software for deep space unmanned missions and with Hughes Aircraft NATO air defense system based in Milan, Italy, before coming to Los Alamos in the fall of 1970.

Hart and his wife, Norma have four children, 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was nominated by Jeremy Smith and Jackie Hurtle for his work with various races and pickle ball for the YMCA. He is an avid cyclist still today.

“Staying active is a way of life for me, having raced bicycles for 45 years, here and in Europe, mainly Italy,” said Hart. “It keeps balance in your life, clearing your mind for the other things in life.”

The day of the drive by recognition, Hart was impeccably dressed as it was a Sunday, the planned Saturday delivery having been rained out. Earlier that day, he had cycled to Bandelier and back, a regular activity. According to Hart, the ride has gotten, “dramatically slower,” which he reports could be totally possible at 81. While I didn’t request permission to state his age, I have a feeling he would forgive me, in order to inspire his community to get out there, staying safe and balanced, of course.

Champions of Youth Ambitions, C’YA celebrates their sixth birthday this week. Please check us out at www.cya-nm.org.