December 31st, 2019: No one knew where our new beginnings would take us. Some of us were wishing to get a fresh start in the new year, while others were sad to see 2019 go. We had no clue that 2020 would bring us so much chaos – and that our new beginnings would come in the way they did. But if we look back on the year that we have lived through, we realize that these new beginnings did come.

We found a new normal through the pandemic, and many underlying blessings surfaced. As a nation, we found that we’d lost a sense of compassion for one another and restored that collective ideal by wearing masks to protect our neighbors. We unveiled a new sense of gratitude for our ability to see others’ smiles. We rediscovered the beauty of nature and started appreciating the simple gifts we had around us, even in solitude. We realized that our appreciation for essential industries was missing and have come to applaud and praise all of our civilian heroes all year. We began to rebuild the sense of humanity that all thought was lost, and the world started to look closer to the world that we want to live in.

We also faced many disappointments and challenges. In 2020, many have come to realize that our nation is far from equity and equality and have devoted their time to contributing to the solution. We have resented and worried about the loss of time with loved ones and stumbled through the uncertainty of our stabilizing routines. Many usual excitements were suddenly taken from us – holidays, birthdays, gathering in coffee shops and eating out, or even traveling home for a weekend. We have grieved the people of our nation.

And yet, I have heard from so many people within the DanceBlue community that this year has been an awakening. The realization of how disconnected we had become from one another had not occurred to us until we were forced to feel it. We began to lean on one another, to reach out virtually, and to feel the ways that we take our livelihood for granted.

Through it all, DanceBlue continued to serve as a reminder that we are not alone. So many of our families felt the weight of isolation before this year and have given us marvelous tips on how to handle a quarantine. These families know how it feels to fear for the health of themselves and the people they love most. Though this year was a trial for each of us, we were inspired by the everlasting strength of our DanceBlue families and clinic staff. As a member of DanceBlue, we each committed to wearing masks, social distancing, and making enlightened decisions regarding our events so that we could protect all vulnerable communities and hope that others would do so in return. We have adapted to create a successful virtual 5k and Silent Auction, and we’re looking forward to preserving through the marathon.

Despite all of the silver linings and benefits, however, I will not neglect to acknowledge that this year was unimaginably difficult. I’m sure, in some way, we are all ready for a new chapter – one full of hope, newfound compassion, and commitment to our neighbors. We are ready for hugs, smiles, and dances with the kids. DanceBlue thrives on these same shared goals and sense of community, inspired by the strong and loving kids we have missed so dearly, and we do it all with a dance.

Think of today, the last day of 2020, as the 24th Hour – you may be exhausted but you know that so much joy is coming. And in the end, you dance with every last bit of energy left. We hope you dance into 2021 with the same strength and joy, we know we are! Happy New Year!