The Fascinators

The end of any calendar year brings about myriad emotions, special opportunities and genuine reflection. For most of us, we just hope that 2014 was better than the prior year, for that is what we strive for as we cross the threshold of yet another new year. This is the best part of being alive, for we get to affect real change in our own lives and seek greater happiness; the new year is the perfect benchmark for beginnings.

When I watched Barbara Walter’s 10 Most Fascinating People program earlier this month, I was struck by the fact that her focus tended to be on celebrities. Sure, I want to know more about Scarlett Johansson’s love life and hear about the gap in Michael Strahan’s smile, but more importantly, I want to hear about the people who are doing great things in our community and world. That is what truly fascinates me.

The Gables and Greater Miami are full of interesting people doing amazing things. In my role as chamber president, I have the good fortune to get to know many of these people and work closely with them. I view my role as not only a cheerleader for our community, but as a convener, facilitator and consensus builder. It is my greatest joy and allows me to meet the movers and shakers who call The City Beautiful home.

What Barbara Walters missed in her seasonal special is that the best things in life are often the untold stories. In my opinion, the focus should be on people who are not on the front page of the newspaper or referenced on Twitter or pictured on Facebook. They are the everyday heroes who make our communities work, who roll up their sleeves and pitch in. They turn the spade with their might and deliver gallons of sweat equity to any endeavor they embrace.

Sure, I am fascinated by the amazing year that Neil Patrick Harris has had — the eternal host with the most. He won a Tony, had twins with his husband and now will host the Academy Awards in February before a world-wide audience of more than a billion people. Little Doogie Howser,MD sure is getting the ratings and putting up big numbers. But how does that affect us here at home in our neck of the woods? Probably not overly significantly.

I always will be the champion and celebrant of the everyday hero, the quiet leader who toils in the shadows to make things happen. People like Hans Huseby, co-owner of Footworks and one of the architects of the Corporate Run that winds its way through Downtown Miami every April.

He and his wife, Laurie, along with their son JP, have been the longtime producers of our Baptist Health Tour of the Gables 5K hosted by the chamber each May. Hans passed away in late November very unexpectedly. It still hurts those in this community who have long known what I always knew…and that was Hans was very special. He was always there to lend a hand, help his fellow merchants and retailers in the Red/Sunset area and well, built a juggernaut of a business from a small store. In a word, he was fascinating.

Gone too soon from our presence, he never will be far from our hearts and minds. When I think of Miami and our little slice of paradise, Hans is one of the people who made it go. He made a difference in our chamber life and, well, for this I will always be grateful.

I know there are others, like Hans, who have contributed much to your life, and will continue to do so as a living testament to all things fascinating. There are so few who do this on a daily basis; promise me you will embrace them while we can.

Happy New Year! May it be a fascinating 2015.

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