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Aviation Education and career expo honored Richard Zaher with an award

Richard Zaher receiving an award

It’s always amazing what people can achieve when they work together. Best You Best Me’s philosophy, “We are one,” reflects this—and the idea that we’re more alike than we are different, and by helping others, we are actually helping ourselves. 

Richard Zaher, CEO of Paramount Business Jets, recently received an award at the ProJet Aviation Education and Career Expo for his support of the organization and the accomplishments of the two organizations in helping others. 

The award is recognition of a team effort and support. In this case, that teamwork was the sharing of ideas to identify who needed help and how it could best be achieved.

ProJet’s Aviation Education and Career Expo

ProJet's Aviation Education and Career Expo

The Aviation Education and Career Expo is the brainchild of Julie O’Brien. Julie is currently General Manager at ProJet Aviation, the DC metro region’s premier aviation Fixed Base Operator and hospitality company. However, she conceived the idea when she was the Director of Marketing for Frederick Aviation at the Frederick Airport in Maryland. The Expo has moved with Julie as she has changed roles and locations, and it’s now held at Leesburg Executive Airport. Thanks to Julie’s vision and enthusiasm, and support from Shye Gilad and ProJet, the Expo has become a hugely successful and well-respected event. Shye Gilad is co-founder and managing partner of ProJet Aviation and he is also the founder and principal of Creating Lift Leadership, a professional education firm dedicated to elevating the performance of executives, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they lead. Next to being a managing partner of ProJet and founder of Creating Lift Leadership, Shye is co-founder and co-host of Business Owners Radio. A show that is focused on making businesses grow. 

The Expo seeks to introduce young people aged 16-22 to the vast array of career opportunities within the aviation industry today. The Expo includes industry leaders and vendors seeking to educate students on the exciting options open to them as they prepare to make decisions about colleges and careers. There are also inspirational aircraft displays and guest speakers, alongside prizes and life-changing scholarships!

This year, Best You Best Me, a 501c3 NGO, supported the Expo as their Fiscal Sponsor, which allowed the many corporate sponsorships and monetary scholarships offered there to be tax deductible.

Richard’s Honorary Jump Baton

At the Expo, Richard Zaher was awarded the honorary Jump Baton by the Golden Knights, the US Army’s aerial parachute demonstration team. He received the award for the pivotal role he and Best You Best Me play at the Expo, and the great work the organization does in the community.

Richard was surprised and delighted to receive the prestigious award. He said: “I am honored to receive an award and be recognized by people whom I admire and respect, furthermore, I am grateful to be able to be helpful to a cause which is changing lives andmaking a positive impact in the lives of our next generation.” 

Working Together for Best You, Best Me

As well as running the Expo, Julie O’Brien has been responsible for bringing a host of charitable events to Leesburg. She also works alongside Richard as a Director of Best You Best Me, together with Dave Morgan, founder and Executive Director of the non-profit organization RecycleLife is also supported by Richard’s company, Paramount Business Jets.

At a Best You Best Me meeting in 2019, Richard suggested to Julie O’Brien that the organization should do an act of kindness in West Virginia. She immediately suggested McDowell County, the poorest county in the US, as a worthy recipient. McDowell County suffered two major floods in the early 2000s, causing multiple deaths and leaving thousands of residents temporarily or permanently homeless. People have struggled to rebuild, often hindered by further flooding in the years since. These floods, coupled with unemployment issues due to the decline of the local coal industry, have caused great poverty. There’s also been a fall in population as people have moved away to find work, worsening the situation.

Richard contacted churches in the area for guidance on how Best You Best Me could assist the people there. The staff at the St. Peter Catholic church in the town of Welch, told him about the regular food drives and other initiatives the church undertakes to provide necessities to local people. Richard was told, “If you come here you will cry.” Richard responded: “Then I am coming.”

Soon after, Richard made the five-hour journey to Welch with a truck load of food. While staying there, he met people from the area to discover the challenges they face and how Best You Best Me could help them. You can learn more about his experience in his video, Discovering McDowell County, West Virginia.

Return to McDowell County

The Best You Best Me team returned to McDowell County on June 11 2019 with support from ProJet Aviation’s Managing Partner, Shye Gilad, Julie O’Brien and their entire staff. You can see how successful this drive was and how much people benefitted from the donations in this video, Return to McDowell County.

However, this year’s operation was on a massive scale. For the 2021 drive, ProJet gave over boardroom space to store donations and its staff helped to receive and pack them. Paramount Business Jets generated the funding for the operation and provided support, as did Families and friends got involved, and pilots flew to McDowell County at their own expense to help. In total, two weeks’ worth of food for 270 families was delivered at four locations, alongside clothing, diapers, cooking pans and other necessities. Best You Best Me also wrote 17 checks to help people in need, totaling 10,750 USD.

The team went to Itmann Food Pantry in Pineville first, then to church, St. Peter, in Welch, which Richard had previously visited. The next stop was the main event at the Powhatan Sacred Heart Church in Powhatan, where 90 boxes of food plus 450 loaves of bread, fresh fruits and over 100 bags of clothing and supplies were delivered, before heading to Peter and Paul Catholic School in Oakhill for the last delivery.

Best You Best Me’s continued support for the people of McDowell County fits perfectly with its mission: “Alleviating Suffering Through Acts of Kindness.” We would like to thank everyone involved and congratulate Richard on his well-deserved Award.

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