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Commentary: Gratitude

Without even asking him, I can tell you that my speedonthewater.com and weekly mountain-biking cohort Jason Johnson will spend a good chunk of this day watching his beloved Dallas Cowboys on television. Being a fair-weather follower of the San Francisco 49ers, I’m no Cowboys fan. But today I’ll root for them anyway because they’re playing the Las Vegas Raiders, and I like them even less than Dallas.

Plus, Johnson is my friend, and one I am blessed to work with in the business we created together. There is no one in the high-performance marine-media world I admire more than him.

Helping an important charity in Key West, Fla., is something everyone at speedothewater.com and its supporters can be thankful for today. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

We all have our cherished Thanksgiving rituals—at least if we’re fortunate enough to have roofs over our heads and food on our tables. And where would we be without them? Trivial or otherwise, those traditions remind us what matters. They keep us grounded.

Among my family’s many Thanksgiving rituals, which include the annual first watching of “Trains, Planes And Automobiles,” is telling one another, as we sit around the dinner table, what we’re grateful for each year. We go one by one. Even the littlest ones are expected to speak (unless, of course, they’re so little that they don’t have words, in which case a gurgle or two will do).

I suspect this happens at millions of Thanksgiving tables around the country.

When it’s my turn today at our family gathering in the suburbs of Chicago, I’ll give thanks that I have Alex and Anna, my son and daughter, in the same room with me for the first time in two years. They are thriving young adults with their own busy lives, and I don’t worry about them making their way in this world. But I do miss seeing them together. They are my heart and soul.

I’ll give thanks for my beautiful, privileged life with Rebecca Peacock. Without her, to borrow from comedian Jeff Foxworthy, my world would function “like a monster truck with a bad transmission.”

Yesterday, I popped up to Milwaukee to have lunch with former Four Horsemen Poker Run organizer Shannon Radtke, her husband, Brian, and their delightful children Eva and Aiden. (Shannon’s soulful father, Brad, also joined us.) The day before, I had lunch with Jim Schultz of Factory Billet at a restaurant near his mind-blowing production facility in the Chicago suburbs. A gracious supporter of speedonthewater.com, Schultz is the brightest person I know. Forget that gray-beard dude in the Dos Equis television ads, Schultz is the most interesting man in the world.

I am blessed to have such people my life.

At the dinner table tonight, I’ll also give thanks to everyone who supports speedonthewater.com, and not because it provides my living. A couple of weeks ago in Key West, Fla., we raised $81,000 for Samuel’s House—a shelter for homeless women and children—with a whole lot of help from a whole lot of friends.

The opportunity to help people in need is yet another blessing to be grateful for, because helping others is a privilege. That is not lost on our readers and advertisers, and their generosity takes my breath away.

So thank you, all. To everyone from Yvonne Aleman and Nikki Sorenson to Burton Kirsten and Jim Lee, each year you are the heroes of our Key West story.

Time to check out because, you know, family. Enough said.

May the holidays find you surrounded by those you love—and those who love you. Peace be with you.

Related story: Speed On The Water Key West Bash Raises $80,000-Plus For Samuel’s House