“We come from very modest backgrounds,” says Dana’s husband, John. “Had Science World been available to us when we were kids, it could have opened up a whole other world.”
In 2013, astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield—the first Canadian to command the International Space Station—visited Science World. As a donor, Dana had the opportunity to attend a special event to meet him and get her copy of his book signed.
Her eyes light up with the memory. “I couldn’t even talk to him! I was too excited!” she laughs. “I walked away without saying anything and I remember he called out, ‘Bye!’ Oh, I’m such a geek.”
The joy that Dana’s lifelong love of astronomy brings her is something she tries to instill in her boys. As soon as they could walk, she and John started bringing them to Science World. She’s also talked to them about space, stars and physics since they were very small. “And now our youngest is totally into it,” she says. “I’m really happy about that.”
Dana explains that while the common theme among her and John’s extensive giving portfolio is equalizing access for folks who otherwise can’t afford it, just as important are the mental health benefits that community-driven programming brings.
“Ultimately, it’s about creating joy,” Dana says.
Science World Patrons Go Beyond
“A number of times when I was growing up,” John says, “there were opportunities I would have loved to have access to, but I couldn’t even ask my parents because I knew it was going to cost money.”
Seeing their kids plead to come regularly to Science World, and spending “hours and hours” at the dome every time, made their decision to support the organization an easy one.
The Montalbanos—kids included—want to make that joy available to all families, regardless of income. “We include our boys in the discussions about our giving,” says John. “They know how fortunate they are not to have to worry about paying for access.”
Looking to the future, John believes that while access to the dome is an incredible privilege, what’s equally exciting is the possibility of going beyond, and reaching the entire province with free science programming.
“To the extent that digital investment allows us to now reach parts of BC that we would not have otherwise reached without that investment, I think it's really important that we undertake it and support it,” he says. “It’s really important that we always reinvest in Science World, and to make sure that that reinvestment is not only maintaining what it does well, but enhancing opportunities for people beyond the Lower Mainland.”
Going beyond is a theme in the Montalbano family. During an intimate conversation, Dana and her close friends asked each other what a great regret of their life would be. At Dana's turn, she shared, “Not understanding space. Not understanding the universe. I’d love to be able to go beyond.”
John adds, “You know, it’s on my bucket list to send Dana into space.”
“Yes,” Dana laughs, “and I think he’ll even bring me back!”
The Future Needs More Nerds.
We couldn’t inspire the future cosmologists and astrophysicists without people like Science World Patrons Dana and John Montalbano. Contribute to our $10 million campaign and make the future a nerdier place.