I Keep Dancing: A Year in Review

We hope everyone is enjoying what this incredible holiday season has to offer: celebration, joy and love. We hold onto those three words even more tightly now as 2016 comes to a close — especially celebration!

We officially launched I Keep Dancing in December of 2015. We want to take a moment to reflect back on this year and celebrate this huge milestone.

  Photo:  Ian Schneider

But before we list some of the highlights of this past year, we want to extend a giant THANK YOU for joining us on this journey. For those of you who have donated to the scholarship, shared our blog posts, prayed with us, cried with us, texted us when you were reminded of Jules throughout this past year,  we cannot even begin to acknowledge our depth of gratitude for each of you. Without our community of friends and family who love Jules and love us, we wouldn’t be dancing.

We have been intentionally quiet these past few months while working on the details of the scholarship, curating more blog content and taking time to reevaluate our organization and what we need to focus on going forward. As we look ahead to 2017, we are very excited about what is in store, but also want to take this opportunity to remember all the ways God has provided for this organization and our family so far.

DECEMBER 2015: THE LAUNCH OF OUR website and blog!

  Sweatshirt design: Joanie Cusack

Sweatshirt design: Joanie Cusack

When we launched the blog for IKD, our main goal was to create an encouraging resource for anyone going through the loss of a loved one, a place to process grief. We were able to gather not just our own thoughts, but share others’ unique perspectives about loss as well. It is encouraging to see the "I Keep Dancing" message shine through a variety of stories! Below are some of our favorite blog posts:

Julia’s Legacy and Lessons on Grief 
Empathy vs. Sympathy
New Traditions
A Year of Firsts: Relearning How to Have a Happy Birthday
A Merry and Mighty Christmas
Sweet 16 Part 1
Sweet 16 Part 2
I Keep Galentines-ing
The Importance of Party hats
Brave Tuesday Story: My Struggle with Infertility
Brave Tuesday Story: Facing Grief
Brave Tuesday Story: The Contagious Power of Doing Good
Oh Death Where is your Sting? 


JANUARY: I KEEP DANCING IN THE NEWS

We had the opportunity to be on our local evening news, ABC7, in LA and Orange County! They were able to film two people getting “I Keep Dancing” tattoos and interview our lovely tattoo artist, Christina, who so joyfully tattooed over 23 people with the incredible hand written artwork by Laura Hooper Calligraphy. We had many people contact us afterwards wanting more information and encouraging us to keep going with our message. It was all very inspiring and surreal!


MARCH: OUR first Fundraiser IN NYC

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This was magic. So many people to thank for how this all turned out.  A HUGE thank you to the Alpha Phi Zeta Sorority at NYU for putting this whole night together. You can read more about this night in this post. The fundraiser (online and live) helped us reach our first goal of $25,000!! Most importantly, we were able to witness how this message of hope and joy in the midst of tragedy has touched so many people within just the first few months of I Keep Dancing.


JULY 7: The First Year Anniversary Party and Fundraiser

We weren’t expecting the first anniversary of Julia’s death to be anything but sad, heartbreaking and painful. But because of all of you, we were able to both celebrate Julia’s life and raise funds for the I Keep Dancing scholarship. The incredibly generous restaurant, Ecco (Julia’s former employer), hosted the first anniversary get together, and donated all proceeds of the signature drink “The Moscow Jules” to I Keep Dancing. So many of you came out to show your support and donated to the scholarship. We raised over $2,000 that evening and that left us all in tears — the happy kind. You can check out some snapchats from the night in the video above!

Video music by Ryan Adams: "Dance all Night"


Reflection and Planning

As we were reflecting back on this year as an organization, we actually couldn’t believe it has only been a year. Like we mentioned above, since the fall, we’ve worked quietly behind the scenes, figuring out the details for the scholarship and planning content for the blog in 2017. We look forward to sharing more details with you regarding the scholarship and providing more resources for people going through grief and loss.


Grieving and Healing

We launched this organization just a few short months after Julia passed away. We were on fire and channeled all of our intense grief into writing for the blog and fundraising for the scholarship. All of that was so necessary for us in our own healing process, and united us in ways we couldn’t even imagine. As the year rolled on and the adrenaline wore off, we all went into a silent healing and grief period. We learned how to live ‘normal’ life again with this hole that would shrink at times, only to expand again on a ‘normal’ day driving to the grocery store and remembering that she’s still not here. This new phase of grief is like being alone in the woods: solemn, cold, sad and sometimes lonely. But it’s also peaceful, numbing, and marked by tints of joy. Sometimes we just can’t feel the pain. Other times it’s still all too much to bear. We look forward to continuing to share our journey towards healing with you all and adjusting to a second year without Julia.


Looking ahead

As we wrap up this year, we have a sustained dedication for this organization and community. We are looking forward to putting our plans into action and can’t wait to share with all of you what is next for I Keep Dancing. Stay tuned! We pray you and your family have a joyful, peaceful and celebratory Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year.

  Photo:  Shane Hauser

A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.  Ecclesiastes 3:4