Today is March 1st – the first month of spring (as long as Mother Nature agrees!) Like many of you, it's one of my favorite months of the year. We see colorful flowers begin to bloom, leaves start to grow in hedges and trees, and we come alive after a long-wilted winter. The days grow longer, allowing for more "outdoor" time with family, friends, Optimist Members, and community. It's a time of discovery to create different ways to reach our communities.
March also means MARCH MADNESS! This is the ONE time of the year I can't get enough of collegiate basketball. Young players from all parts of the globe are now playing at the NCAA Division I level. America goes crazy for buzzer-beaters and Cinderella stories. Players put everything on the line in the hopes of hoisting the championship trophy.
One of the all-time greats, North Carolina State University Basketball coach Jimmy Valvano, said: "To me, there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think -- spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think, and cry, that's a heck of a day."
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As we begin to gather outdoors, it's time to dust off those cornhole boards and start your way to hoisting the Inaugural Trophy in Reno, Nevada. I am pleased to announce that Safe Embrace in Reno, Nevada, has been chosen to be the recipient of the funds raised during the tournament. As an all-inclusive crisis shelter, Safe Embrace is committed to ending the cycle of domestic and sexual violence with innovative prevention and intervention services available to anyone who needs it. Find out more at: https://safeembrace.org/
Lastly, March is also Women's History Month and is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia – while many countries celebrate "persons day" in additional months. I wish to take this opportunity to honor the generations of trailblazing women and girls who have contributed to building our Nations, shaped our progress, and strengthened our character as a people. These women are not just doing what was once unthinkable; they have and are making history and the world a better place. As President of Optimist International, I wish to pay honor to the first woman president to lead Optimist International, Ronnie Dunn (2006 - 2007). In addition to women of history, I want to celebrate women making history by honoring Cheryl Brenn, Optimist International's first woman Executive Director.
March begins the season of renewal, new growth, and enlightenment! It's time we cartwheel past our comfort zones, take some risks, and put it all out there on the line as those who came before us.