In 2005, Julie O’Brien and Sarah Thompson embarked on a mission to inspire young minds through the Aviation Education & Career Expo. Under their remarkable leadership, the Expo rapidly gained respect in the Aviation Industry.
A significant moment unfolded in 2009 when Shye Gilad, co-founder of ProJet Aviation, introduced a scholarship program at the Expo. Shye’s inspiration for this initiative came from the support he received at the start of his career. His former boss, Mike Burke, played a key role by granting Shye his first scholarship many years ago when Shye was first getting started. Mike organized a surprise party to celebrate Shye’s acceptance into Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, raising $400 to contribute to Shye’s flight training.
This apparently small act of kindness triggered a series of events, leading to the program awarding students $1.6 million in scholarships over the years.
When Richard Zaher, Paramount Business Jets’ CEO, and BYBM’s founder, heard this story, and he suggested honoring Mike Burke at Expo 2023. On stage, Richard echoed Shye’s journey to success. He highlighted the importance of hard work, commitment, and supporting others. Inviting Mike forward, he presented him with a legacy award, acknowledging his role as a catalyst for the scholarship program’s development, stating:
In honor of Michael Burke, whose boundless kindness and unwavering support transformed a single act of friendship into a legacy. Your inspiration has raised over $1.6 million in scholarships, launched thousands of careers, and forever changed lives. We are eternally grateful, Shye, Julie, Sarah, and Richard.
In a heartfelt gesture, BYBM acknowledged Mike Burke with a $4000 gift, a tenfold appreciation of his initial kindness. Hundreds of young minds in the audience witnessed the direct impact of kindness unfolding before their eyes. They learned how it can create ripple effects far beyond one’s imagination.
This story, along with others shared at the Expo, emphasized the impressive achievements that can happen when people unite. It echoed the core principle of BYBM–that by helping others, we ultimately help ourselves.
The event stands as a beacon of inspiration for young minds in the region, celebrating the launch of dreams and fostering the belief that together, we can shape a better future. Through the combined efforts of Julie O’Brien, Sarah Thompson, Shye Gilad, and the event partners, each year, the wings of generosity continue to lift the aspirations of young minds to new heights.
Best You Best Me strongly supports this project and takes pride in being a consistent partner over the years. In addition to our direct contributions, we also serve as the Expo’s Fiscal Sponsor, allowing corporate sponsorships and monetary scholarships to qualify for tax deductions.