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Challenger widow speaks out after devastating fire damages house

HOUSTON – Cheryl McNair said she is lucky and that there are so many blessings to count.

She said she survived a fire at her home because a phone call woke her up. Now, she's determined to help keep her husband's memory alive.

Weeks after the devastating fire at the home of McNair and her husband, American astronaut Ronald McNair, a man who dedicated his life to mankind, Cheryl McNair sat down to talk with KPRC.

Ronald McNair "talked so much after his spaceflight about how he was going to inspire children across the nation and learning all that they could learn," she said.

He was one of seven members on the 1986 space shuttle Challenger that exploded. No one survived.

Then there was another loss, an electrical fire nearly devoured their El Lago home.

"By the time we turned around, the house was engulfed in flames. It was quite an exciting moment, and I was thinking, 'God. Thank God I'm alive.'"

It is a home with history. She told first responders to save what they could, but specifically the medallions.

"I'm so happy that they found this one, too. This is of the Challenger mission."

Tokens that keep Ronald McNair's memory alive and his goal to inspire children to overcome odds, break barriers and endure.

"There will always be something to shake up your life, but you should never let it break up your life," Cheryl McNair said. 

She created the Dr. Ronald E. McNair DREME Foundation, which aims to educate children and inspire them to keep learning.

As for the fire, she said a lot was saved, and much of it is at a restoration facility.