Michigan Avenue Magazine’s signature summer event is Ashore Thing. The annual event is held at Chicago’s Navy Pier to send off the sailors in style as they leave Chicago on their way to Mackinac Island. The Race to Mackinac is hosted by the Chicago Yacht Club and is the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world.
The Ashore Thing event is usually held outdoors, at the end of the pier. Grandstands are setup for viewing the boats as they leave, and various sponsor tents dot the area. Michigan Avenue Magazine sets up a VIP tent complete with bar, food, and music. This time of year is typically picture perfect, and the outdoor setting makes for a festive party setting. Except this year. When we arrived to set up the Laura Delman tent, we were met with 50 degree weather and high winds that blew the rain horizontally.
Fortunately, the Michigan Avenue and the Laura Delman teams are resilient. The decision was soon made to move the entire event (expect the sailboats!) into the adjacent ballroom. Within minutes, booths and bars and food tables were all inside and the party began.
The group shown at the top of this blog is of my friends who volunteered to model Laura Delman fashions. They are the picture of resilience. Not only did they model, they cheerfully helped move tables, set up and re-setup the booth; and smiled through it all. They see the silver lining in any situation even though, like me, they’ve faced seemingly unbearable heartaches. They have chosen lives of grace and gratitude.
One has a 19-year old son who has both Downs Syndrome and Autism. This challenge has connected her with opportunities she never expected. It has opened her heart to accept all and give back to those who are struggling. She knows the amazing impact of a kind word. Another suffered a ruptured disk last year and was in extreme pain for months. Divorced and handling a career change, she was able to rehab quickly from her injury to enjoy a vacation with her daughter who was leaving for medical school. Another is facing domestic violence. She’s finding the strength and courage to resist and make a new life for herself. Others have persisted through divorce, breast cancer, and loss of dearly loved ones.
All of them realize that life is full of joy and sadness, pleasure and pain, unrest and peace. They have chosen to maintain kind spirits, generous hearts, and joyful souls. This is what the Laura Delman brand embodies. That’s why it’s no surprise that in spite of… or in light of… the windy and rainy weather, they all maintained a positive outlook and saw the silver lining in the day. That’s RESILIENCE. We met so many wonderful people throughout the day, including Irika Sargent, news anchor at Channel 2 News. And yes, we sold some clothes.
After we packed up and as we drove away from the pier, life hit us again with sorrow. Emergency vehicles, with sirens blaring, raced down the pier. We found out later on the news that tragically, Jon Santarelli, a crew member on one of the racing boats, was swept overboard by a high wave about 4 miles from the pier. Unfortunately his lifejacket failed to automatically inflate. The high seas, wind and rain prevented nearby boats from finding him. Many boats abandoned the race to turn around and search. His body was recovered several days later. He was a passionate, seasoned sailor and well-respected within the close-knit sailing community. Our hearts go out to his family. We pray for peace and comfort for them and his fellow sailors.
One recurring lesson is that we have no control over life’s events; other than our response to them. Rebirth and resilience are key to turning tragedy to precious gifts. We are able, by going INSIDE, to move through the storm and bring light when it is the darkest. We will carry on, hold one another, express gratitude and bring new life to the world; through our creative spirits. Rebirth IS resilience. Blessings for us all.