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Weekly Message from Our Executive Director (5.18.20)

By: Michele Tuck-Ponder, Executive Director

Dear DI Family,

My three favorite holidays are Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day. Those holidays were of major importance while I was growing up because they meant we were having a backyard COOKOUT!

My extended family would always gather at our house on those holidays to laugh, play games and tell stories. Both of my parents were the youngest of 7 kids, so there was always a big crowd. Everyone would bring their special dish: Aunt Cassie’s Apple Cake, Aunt Dee’s coleslaw, Aunt Lucille’s killer potato salad, and my mom would make a peach cobbler. With fresh peaches, of course! My Uncle Calvin, who worked for a butcher, would bring the steaks.

As the youngest of the youngest (I was the baby of the family), it was my job to build the fire. As a Girl Scout, I always did it by the book. I would find kindling in the yard, build a mound of charcoal in the grill, strategically place newspaper around the charcoal and light it up. In 30 minutes, the coals would be white and glowing and ready for the first round of hot dogs and hamburgers.

Of course, by the time folks were ready for the steaks to go on the grill, the fire had sort of petered out. I would throw more charcoal on the fire and tell the grillmaster (my dad) that the coals would be ready in 10 minutes.

But my dad was no Girl Scout. He was an Army guy and impatient to get those beautiful steaks on the fire. So he would go into the garage, grab a cup of gasoline meant for the lawnmower, and toss it on the fire. The flames were spectacular. He would then grill the steaks, which sadly, were not spectacular. The fire was too hot, the steaks would be burnt outside and raw inside, and worse, they tasted like gasoline. Yuck.

This memory makes me think of what DIHQ is confronting today. For over 20 years we have overseen a successful program and had time to thoughtfully try new ideas, make adjustments and refine our program. But in this era of Covid-19, we have had to pivot and create a new virtual experience on an unfamiliar platform. For 2020, I think that we have put together a program that our community will enjoy.

The bigger question is: what will next season look like? We are committed to presenting a quality program that can accommodate whatever comes next. Will social distancing still be in place? Will there be a second wave of Covid-19? Will Affiliates be in a position to host live tournaments? Will people be willing to congregate in large crowds as we have in the past?

I know that many of you are anxious to see the Challenges Previews for the 2020-21 season, and we are eager to roll them out. But since it’s not “business as usual,” we are proceeding with urgency, but also with caution and care, to ensure that we can present the best program possible. We are doing our best to avoid haste in getting the job done fast, but below our usual standards. In other words, we won’t toss gasoline on the fire in order to get the steaks done quickly.

From all of us at DIHQ, our deepest thanks for your patience and understanding as we labor to present the best possible DI Challenge season for our kids.

I also want to take this opportunity to offer my best wishes to you and yours for a healthy, safe and enjoyable Memorial Day. I know that you will join me in taking a moment to think of those who bravely sacrificed their lives for our country. And in these momentous times, let’s also think of those who are on the front lines fighting to save people afflicted by Covid-19.

William Tuck, “The Grillmaster,” is in the top row, last man on the right. Several of them did not return alive from fighting in World War II.

 

Stay Healthy.  Stay Creative.

Michele