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As we look to new adventures in 2017, I thought it appropriate to highlight a group that is dedicated to boldly going in search of strange new worlds, new life, and new civilizations. That’s right – there’s a Kansas City Star Trek fan club, which operates the USS Valiant. A bold name for all that lies ahead. Read on to find out why the group is “like that odd family that you’re not real sure about, but secretly want to be a part of.”
What is the name of your group?
We are the USS Valiant – a ship (chapter) of STARFLEET, The International Star Trek Fan Association (SFI).
What is your name and what is your role in the group?
I’m Mike Calhoun. I hold the rank of Colonel in the STARFLEET Marines, and I am the CO, or President of the chapter.
How would you describe your group?
We’re an eclectic mix of Sci-Fi and non-Sci-Fi fans brought together by a common…affinity (okay, it’s obsession on some levels) for Star Trek in particular, and its vision for humanity.
Aside from the mutual support we give to each other on all levels, we commit to providing community service through Harvesters Food Bank, giving blood, donating warm clothing to the homeless, and toys for the USMC Reserve’s Toys-for-Tots.
How long have you been a member, and what made you want to found the local Kansas City Star Trek fan club group?
I joined SFI in September of 2014 after about 15 years out of fandom. I re-connected with an old friend – Dennis Bain – when I placed an ad on Craigslist that I wanted to start a ship in the area in January of 2015. I just really missed being involved in the fan aspect of Trek. We met up like we had never missed a beat, and officially launched with 12 people in March 2015.
How big is the group?
We have 28 active SFI members, and a half dozen or more that “play” with us who choose not to belong to the parent organization. We have members from St. Joe to South KC, Parkville to Blue Springs. SFI is 5000 members from across the planet (this one, anyway).
How often, and where do you meet?
At least monthly. We move it around from time to time, but our ship has traditionally “docked” at Chinatown Super Buffet in Blue Springs for the monthly meeting. We’ll have frequent impromptu gatherings at the Captain’s quarters just for fun.
What do you do at meetings and events?
At the meetings, we’ll discuss what we have done, what we have planned as far as events and the like, and break down by departments anything interesting or of note. For example, our Chief Medical Officer is a health care professional, and may speak to us about the health topic most important at that time. The Science Officer may talk about the latest discovery at CERN or celestial events of note. We’ll close with themed trivia with fabulous prizes, like “The Golden Yoda” for the May the 4th winner.
We also do much, much more: Academy Nights, where we take SF Academy courses together, movie and game nights, food collection at conventions and movie premieres, to name just a few. Nothing is mandatory, come and join when you can.
What do you love about the group? What makes it unique?
We’re like that odd family that you’re not real sure about, but secretly want to be a part of. I’ve never gotten as close to a group of people as fast as I did this one. We don’t “pigeon-hole” ourselves like some groups do with just Star Trek. It is a common passion of most of us, but not all. Heck, a few don’t even care for Trek or any SciFi at all (GASP!).
We’re very eclectic, like I said before. We have Jews, Gentiles, Wiccans, Atheists, Dems, Repubs, Libs, Greens, on and on and on – we don’t judge, and don’t fight. We don’t jockey for position in the club, local or parent.
I think our uniqueness is in that our focus is on our family atmosphere and our community service, rather than just being seen and recruiting more and more members like so many other organizations.
Tell us about a particularly memorable moment in the group.
Well, that has a back story. Dennis Bain and I were old friends from many years ago in a Klingon fan organization, where I “commanded” a squadron. We started the ship together. He had tried before to start one, but had an extraordinarily bad run of luck and it failed. I’m a manager in life, so I took the XO position because it suited what I do, we merged our two groups, and we all went to work. It was something very important to him. We had one of the fastest shakedown cruises ever – doing it in the minimum five month period. We commissioned as a full chapter in November of 2015, and really did it up right, with ship’s bells, ceremony, out of state SFI dignitaries. He was very proud, and very happy.
We unexpectedly lost our friend and Captain, Dennis, in January this past year, so his joy at seeing our successful (and quite a big deal) commissioning was probably collectively our most memorable moment.
What future plans lay ahead for the group?
We recently had a big joint anniversary/Halloween party planned that we co-hosted with an independent group, the USS Stargazer, and hosted warm clothing and toy drive late last year. We have a blood drive scheduled in January. Plus the normal gamut of things we do together. Planet Comicon in the Spring will be another big event, so we’ll have a lot of fun and worthwhile activities. Everything is on our Facebook page and our website stays pretty up to date.
Where can someone find more information about your Kansas City Star Trek fan club?
- Website: https://www.ussvaliantsfi.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/USSValiant/
- Twitter: @mikekido63
What’s something you love about Kansas City?
The people. It’s a Midwestern thing. Folks are friendly and willing to reach out and help their neighbor when needed and on any given night, a yard party can become a block party.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Roddenberry’s vision was one of people settling differences with intelligent discussion. It was okay to disagree. There was no reason to lose friendships or other relationships just because one felt differently. That’s what we believe and what we live.