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By: Clare Bennett

Make DC Smile is all about positivity, and much of that stems from expressing the deepest gratitude for all that life has to offer. Today, I’d like to highlight an influential friend and fellow DC-area native, who taught many the value of being thankful.

Two years ago, on December 1, 2012, Casey Schulman tragically passed away in an accident during her senior year of college.  Like so many others, I know how lucky I was to call Casey a dear friend. She was and is the light of every life she touched.

Max Grant, another close friend of Casey’s, and I were just discussing how Casey’s shining example of how to be good to others and a life well-lived is something we should all strive towards. Her kind and loving spirit was and will always be too heavenly to match, but we hope to honor her in trying.

Whether she was enjoying a meal with friends or swimming laps with me at the AFC pool, Casey would often just stop abruptly and exclaim what a beautiful day or moment it was. Casey always gave people the benefit of the doubt, and she always reached for love when handling any given situation.

Among the countless virtues that made Casey Schulman an angel among us, one stands out in particular. Casey kept a piece of paper with the word “thankful” written on it by her bed throughout her journey on Semester at Sea, and I believe we are all changed for the better because of Casey’s refusal to take anything for granted. I know I live my life differently as a result of Casey’s zest for even the smallest details of our everyday routines.

The anniversary of Casey’s passing closely follows Thanksgiving, and I am convinced that Casey is challenging us to be fervently thankful – not just on Thanksgiving but every single day we live. So, as we go about the holiday season this year and into 2015, let us keep gratitude journals, call that people who made us smile, give thanks through kindness of our own, and maybe we can all take a small but significant step together towards emulating Casey Schulman and sharing her positive call to be thankful.

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