Buzz Aldrin, retired astrounaut and Air Force Colonel, took the stage at Cliffbreakers in Rockford.
He shared personal life stories including his journey to the moon, and the obstacles he face when he returned.
Aldrin was in town for the Winnebago County Salvation Army's annual civic luncheon.
Coordinator Major Randy Hellstrom said their mission to help those in need and Aldrin's message was a perfect fit.
"There's very few people in this world that are more inspiring than Buzz Aldrin," Hellstrom said.
After achieving what once seemed impossible Aldrin suffered from alcoholism and depression.
Now 33 years sober Aldrin shared he still battles moments of depression.
Hellstrom compared Aldrin's battles with the challenges the Stateline area faces, "We've taken some hits in Rockford. Our hope is that his message today will inspire us as a city, as a community, as a county, to pull together and to rise up above the challenges that we have."
Aldrin now a best-selling author said he will continue to push for space exploration, particularly to Mars.
He credited the surging space program for pushing the youth and the United States to strive for greatness.
"What stimulated us in the past is the imagination the inspiration that helped mold the careers of our young people," said Aldrin.
Aldrin added he will work with whatever administration wins the November election to push the nation's space program.