The Space Shuttle and Adoption

/Friends /Tees

The Space Shuttle tee on Cotton Bureau

Cutting to the Chase - TL;DR

My friends are unable to have more children and they are looking to adopt a baby. I am selling some goods with a design I created featuring the Space Shuttle in order to be able to contribute to their adoption fund. You can also donate directly.


  • GoFundMe (100% of your donation, minus fees)


Adult Tees From Cotton Bureau1
Available to order through July 27th, 2015.

Kid’s Tees From Teespring2
Available through July 29th, 2015.

Stickers From Sticker Mule
This is a durable sticker great for your car, laptop, motorcycle helmets, wherever.

Home Goods & Accessories From Society6
All prices are a starting price, some variations may cost significantly more.

The Space Shuttle

When I was a kid, there was nothing I wanted more than to fly on the Space Shuttle. I watched the movie Space Camp more than any human being should be allowed to. My friend and I sold soda at the local Civil War reenactment, mowed lawns, washed cars, and took other odd jobs to raise money so we could go to Space Camp ourselves. (We actually didn’t quite make enough for the airfare out to Florida so we attended the nearby Aviation Challenge, instead.)

The Space Shuttle was always more than just a vehicle to me. It wasn’t “just a rocket” in my eyes. The Space Shuttle was—and is—a symbol. A symbol of freedom, a symbol of peace, of unity, of humanity’s very best. I watched as astronauts from all over the world boarded the Shuttle, coming together with a common cause of exploring, experimenting, and testing the limits of human achievement. (The Space Shuttle is the most complex machine ever built with over 2.5 million parts.)

When it was announced that the Shuttle program was going to be discontinued, I literally wept. It may sound strange, since I was a grown man, but that announcement was robbing me of a dream I had held dear for my entire life: someday I’d go to Florida and witness a Shuttle launch. And now I never could.

Jason & Emily

Jason and Emily Campbell3 are a kind and generous couple. They grew up in the same town, went to the same high school, and the same church. They never thought about dating each other until they both went off to college and randomly ran into each other on campus. Suddenly Jason realized, “Why did I never date this girl at home? She’s AMAZING!” They have now been married for 12 years.

They had a daughter 10 years ago who is full of spunk and sugar. She loves art and draws constantly. Jason and Emily give her all their love. They are two of the finest parents I’ve ever met; supportive, encouraging, and loving.

Jason currently works at a company in California, literally building rockets. He’s a specialist in composite materials and works extensively in the production of carbon fiber parts. He volunteers as a Varsity Coach with the Boy Scouts of America, leading his troop on hiking and biking adventures, and helping them develop into upstanding, honorable men.

Emily volunteers with the youth of her church, primarily with the young women. She teaches them about faith, kindness, integrity, and virtue. And she does all of that with her example, not just her words.

Unfortunately, the Campbells have been trying to have more children for more than eight years to no avail. Like my weeping for the lost dream of witnessing a Shuttle launch, I can only imagine the heartache and sorrow that the Campbells have felt these many years, longing to grow their family. I’m sure the tears cannot be counted. They are wonderful people but do not have the means for expensive, not-covered-by-medical-insurance procedures like IVF. Even if they had the money for IVF, that procedure is far from a guarantee of pregnancy.

As such, the Campbells are looking to adopt, and they need some help. That is why I will be donating $3 for every one of my Space Shuttle shirts I sell, and $1 from every Space Shuttle sticker I sell. I’ll also be donating my proceeds from sales of any of my Space Shuttle products to Jason and Emily.

Bringing it Together

So why the Space Shuttle? Why not design something about families and parenthood to sell? To be honest, the design came first and the idea to donate came later. I was sitting in Jason & Emily’s living room, talking to them about where they were at with their tests and the adoption process. I asked if there was anything I could do to help. “Your prayers for us are more than welcome.” I promised I’d be praying for them. I also volunteered to act as a reference if needed during the adoption process. On my drive home it hit me, “I could contribute to their adoption if I sold another shirt on Cotton Bureau, and I already have a design.”

As I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that the Space Shuttle is the perfect illustration for a family who is looking to adopt.

  1. Jason builds rockets for a living so there’s that.

  2. The Space Shuttle is built to break the bonds of gravity, to escape the atmosphere, and to reach what once seemed impossible. For the Campbells, their gravity is infertility4, and their atmosphere is despair. To them, having another child seems impossible, but through the vehicle of adoption, they can reach those previously unattainable dreams.

  3. The Space Shuttle inspires so many, even though it’s no longer flying. The legacy of the Space Shuttle continues to be one of hope. It inspires children and adults alike to reach for their own dreams, in spite of the odds. Yes, there may be failures and great loss along the way, but we should never stop reaching, never stop daring, never stop dreaming.

About the Design

Still Pioneers by Matt Nicolaysen

My design is entitled Still Pioneers, a quote by President Ronald Reagan from his national address after the Challenger disaster:

“We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and, perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers.”

The Shuttle is in the process of launching, not in orbit or descent. This is symbolic of the aspirations of the program to help us rise above our differences and work in unity that we might attain higher goals together.

The ribbon wraps partially around the Shuttle also suggesting unity, but it remains open so it can accept others. The red, white, and blue represent courage, purity, and valor.

The stars are the 5 orbiters. The 2 isolated stars on the right represent the Challenger and Columbia which were tragically lost in flight. The 14 points of light represent the 14 men and women who lost their lives in those disasters.

Spread the word

There are links at the bottom of this post to share it on various social media. While these links are fine, they are a bit generic. I’ve embedded some posts below for you to share, retweet, repin, etc.

You've all seen me publishing shirts here before. This one, though, is a lot more than that for me. Please take a few…

Posted by Matt Nicolaysen on Monday, July 13, 2015

  1. I only get paid by Cotton Bureau if I sell at least 25 shirts. If you follow the link and the shirt is no longer for sale, please enter your email address as wanting to see it come back. If they get 50 requests they’ll put it back up for sale and email you when they do. I’ll continue to donate $3 of every sale for as many times as the shirt goes live. 

  2. The shirts on Teespring only go to print if each variation sells at least 5. Also, Teespring isn’t as straightforward about profits as Cotton Bureau so I’m unsure how much I’ll make on each shirt sold until the campaign is over and the shirts go to print. I’ll be donating 80% of the proceeds from Teespring to the Campbells, though. Whatever that is. 

  3. “Jason and Emily” don’t know I’m doing this, so I’ve changed their names. If you read this and discern who they are, please do not reveal this to them. I would like to make my donation to them anonymously. 

  4. I’m borrowing a metaphor from my friend Ty Harmon’s inspiring podcast Escape Velocity 

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