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The weather in New York City may have been chilly this morning, but it was no match for the excitement of our Elders.  We couldn’t wait to board the Big Red Bus and tour the city! We had plans to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island today and nothing was going to slow us down! As the bus whizzed down the city streets of NYC, everyone marveled at all the city had to offer. They couldn’t believe we were passing by NBC Studios, Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building to name a few.

Once we arrived in Battery Park, we could see Lady Liberty from the distance across the water. There she stood in all of her majesty. We couldn’t believe we were finally about to see her up close and personal. The Elders were all laughing as we boarded the Ferry.  Everyone was buzzing with conversation about all of the things we had already seen and what was yet to come.  After we were off the ferry at Liberty Island, we all started walking the path around to the Statue of Liberty.  We couldn’t believe the size of her as we approached.  Each person’s eyes filled with awe and wonder at how significant this moment really was. One of the Elders said, “It’s like we are living in a movie but this is real life!”

Over the past six years we have had the joy to be with over 2400 Elders and Stakeholders on Elder Vacations.  We have loved watching them be explorers and enjoying their lives. However, today we realized it is so much more than a “trip” or a “vacation”.  As I stood watching the Elders turn their heads to see the Statue of Liberty up close for the first time, I felt a few tears escape my eyes. As their gazes turned upward to revel in Lady Liberty’s beauty, I couldn’t help but turn my thoughts toward freedom.

Freedom is a powerful word. 7 years, 2400 people and a lot of freedom. Freedom for Elders to live their lives in a way that they had never dreamed up. To mark things off their bucket list. To say, “I did that”.  Freedom for our Stakeholders to build beautiful relationships with our Elders. Freedom to give love, life and happiness to many people. Tonight an Elder told me I was her best friend. It doesn’t get much better than that.