My father is 82 years young. I’m sure a lot of people feel “blessed” when a parent lives to be that age, but for my dad, it’s almost a miracle. Back in 2007, he had a stroke that was followed by a brain hemorrhage that almost killed him. Years later, when looking at a brain scan related to that hemorrhage, his doctor said, “Surviving this was literally one in a million. I don’t know how you did it.” He was left with the loss of peripheral vision (which makes it very hard to drive) and he has aphasia, which means his short term memory isn’t so good and he can’t always think of the words that he wants to say.

But unfortunately, the hits didn’t quite end there. In 2012, he was diagnosed with cancer. He had a fairly rare type of lymphoma called mantle cell lymphoma, and he started chemotherapy as soon as he was diagnosed. Once again, luck was on his side; the chemotherapy worked and he’s been in remission since.

The final hit came in 2014 when my mother had a stroke. It was worse than my dad’s. She almost died and is now paralyzed on her right side. The two of them live in the same complex; my father in an independent-living apartment, my mother across the parking lot in the nursing home.

As bad as some of those years — 2007, 2012, 2014 — were, my dad recently said to me, “2020 has been the worst year I’ve ever seen in my life.” My dad lived through World War II, and he was enlisted in the Navy during Korea (though he never deployed). He lived through the civil rights era, the Vietnam War, and so much more on a personal level, including the death of his youngest brother, Wayne, who was just five at the time. Yet he has no doubt that there is a year that will ever rival the insanity that was 2020.

I’m sure that just about every single person reading this will echo the sentiments expressed by my father. It’s hard to put into words how absolutely awful a year this has been; unprecedented in its challenges, and a level of financial devastation that this country has not seen since, arguably, the Great Depression. We’ve yelled at each other about mask mandates, screamed at the government to help as businesses struggle to stay afloat and watched aghast as over 300,000 of our fellow Americans have died of the coronavirus while thousands more have gotten very ill.

In short, 2020 sucked.

But as the 17th-century historian Thomas Fuller stated, “It is said that the darkest hour of the night comes before the dawn.” Now, I’d be lying if I said I was an optimist. At best, I’m a realist; at worst, I can be a pessimist. And yet I have a feeling that we truly are about to turn the corner on a much better year. That 2021 will be everything that 2020 was not, and could not be. I believe that your clubs will be open not just at 50%, but at full capacity, within the next few months. I believe that customers will be flocking back to clubs because they so desperately miss human interaction, especially the type of human interaction that adult nightclubs thrive in delivering. If there’s a business that is set to thrive when COVID finally comes to an end, it’s certainly this one.

If you read the article in our January issue on pages 52-53, you’ll note that Dr. Tim Davis, an epidemiologist who’s currently working with ACE National, believes that many Americans could likely be vaccinated by the Spring. For all of us hoping to come together as an industry in Miami in May 2021, this is music to our ears. Nothing would make us happier than to see you all there, knowing that your businesses and/or careers are thriving again. It could be a celebration that we’ve all been longing for.

That celebration day may feel miles away. But make no mistake, the dawn is coming.

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