I usually will send out an email to my co-workers this time of year expressing my gratitude and thanks for their friendship and acceptance of the person that I am, and the mood swings that comes with being within 50 feet of me any given day.

This year, I am choosing to relay those feelings to all of you, those who visit our site despite the lack of NHL news and who continue to put up with my 140-character musings on a daily basis.  You allow me a platform to speak my mind and what fills my heart.  Be it hockey related, Cowboys football bashing or bragging about family, you accept me for who I am and everything I try to be and do.  I am forever grateful for that.

This time of year, I always make it a point to fully remove myself, even for a few minutes and look at my life “from above.”  The first thing I ask myself is, “Are my grandparents proud?”  The last piece of advice my grandfather gave me before I made the treacherous 30-minute drive up to Denton, TX to attend the University of North Texas was “be proud of your last name.”  Despite the fact that the rest of my family never received that advice and soil the very name I chose to take when I was eight years old since I didn’t have a father in my life, I continue to strive to be the father that my grandfather was with me.

But as I look at the amazing family that I get to share the rest of my life with and the wonderful house we have fought and worked so hard to obtain, I am left with a feeling of sadness.  A feeling that as fortunate as I realize I am, there are those who have literately lost everything in less than a 24-hour time frame.

Several weeks ago, many of our friends, loved ones and perhaps some of you who are reading this lost everything you owned to the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.  What’s worse is there are those who lost loved ones.  It is those souls that I think of as I write this, knowing that despite the fact that my grandparents were taken from me due to time and illness, I too wish for a few more moments as Thanksgiving approaches.  I pray in this dark time, those who have lost family members and friends, whomever you seek solace from, grant you peace in knowing your loved ones are with you.

And it’s also during this time that I think of a very special family…a family with a completely different, yet just as powerful Sandy.  In what has to be one of the most trying weeks for her and her family, a hole that has been left in their heart and the hearts of many across America is remembered.  It was 4 short months ago tomorrow that their beautiful daughter and sister, Jessica Redfield Ghawi was taken from them…from all of us. 

Then, next Tuesday the 27th, is Jessica’s 25th birthday.

If there’s something my faith has taught me (and proven to me several times over) is that no one ever truly leaves their loved ones.  Despite never having the fortune of meeting Jessica in person, I am blessed to know she looks over all of her friends and family…after all, we were all brought together somehow.

I have said it many times over: In an unthinkable tragedy, I have been blessed to come across the most loving, beautiful people God has ever created.  As such, the first thing many of those chose to do in the shadows of that Cineplex in Aurora was to create a scholarship foundation bearing Jessica’s name.  The goal of the JRG Foundation is to help provide a young woman the same opportunities at sports broadcasting that Jessica dedicated her life to.  In less than 24 hours, their initial goal of $20,000 was obliterated.  Now, as the year comes to a close, their financial goals are within reach.

If there’s anything that any of you could do is please go to https://www.saafdn.org/JRGScholarship and give anything.  Any of you who have gone to or paid for college knows that the price is astronomical and the life of a reporter is anything but extravagant.  Those who go into this field are because we love the subjects we cover and follow.  Getting rich is the furthest thing from our minds. 

Please, help carry Jessica’s dream in your hearts as well and donate.  Her last act of kindness which was carried out was an equipment drive she was organizing at the time of July 20th for the victims of the Colorado wildfires.  A couple of months ago, an entire semi-tractor trailer were filled to the top with donated equipment.  Jessica continues to do good on a daily basis.  Please, help her continue to do that for someone special.

May each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with whoever warms your heart and brightens your life.  Please, be safe and let’s drop the darn puck already (I had to put at least one reference in there).