John Bernatovicz

Special Day for Me…and Us!

cleAs LinkedIn and Facebook do an amazing job of telling the world, today is my 43rd birthday. That makes today special for me as I’m thankful for birthdays. Life is precious and God has blessed me with amazing parents who love me, supportive brothers (Tony and Andy), the best sister (Terese) a guy could ask for, a beautiful and loving wife, two great kids (wish they would quit growing up so fast), a loving home, great neighbors and friends, and the list goes on.

Today is also “Sportsmas” in Northeast Ohio. As a Clevelander I had serious doubts a day like today would ever happen – a day when the Cleveland Cavaliers begin their journey to “Defend the Land” as NBA champs and the Cleveland Indians commence the World Series. It’s also the day that Willory celebrates its sixth anniversary.

How does all of this goodness and pure joy fall on one day? Let’s get one thing straight. My wedding day and the birth of my kids trump today… but as far as non-life changing moments I’m not sure there is a day that better symbolizes me as a Clevelander.

As a kid, I went to the Browns playoff game when Bernie drove the Browns back from 10 points down to the Jets. My dad was thankful that I stubbornly would not let him leave to beat traffic. The next week my mom built a decorative cardboard dog-house that I wore on my head to “The Drive” game against the Broncos and John Elway. I vividly remember screaming at the top of my 13-year-old lungs “you’re going to jinx it” to 70,000 fans who were chanting Super Bowl. I’ve never heard a place get so quiet so fast in my life.

As for the Indians, my dad (a high school catcher) helped me appreciate the sport as he took me to games growing up. There were the dead days at Municipal stadium and then Jacobs Field and the 90’s happened. I remember watching the last World Series on a snowy night Cleveland when the Tribe came up short to the Marlins. The memory still irks me.

Finally, my love for the Cavs dates back to when my dad’s law firm would give us tickets to 3-4 games per year. I distinctly remember Ehlo, Nance, Hot Rod, Price, Harper, Brad, and others playing their hearts out. Those teams were so good. The loudest building I’ve ever been in was when the Cavs beat the Celtics in the closeout game. If it wasn’t for MJ, things might have been different that year. Fast forward to when that kid from Akron is drafted and he takes us to new heights, then breaks our collective heart to go to Miami. Only to return to deliver me (and the rest of the long suffering fans) our first major title in over 50 years. I cried with my 8-year-old son as we watched them clinch Game 7.

That is Cleveland. And I know there are a million other stories just like it. I’m sure there are several other Clevelander’s celebrating their birthday today, but I doubt anyone else also has their entrepreneurial anniversary on this same day.

Six years ago today, I started Willory. As I reflect on this historic day in the history of our great city, I believe it all went into forming Willory. Our firm is unique like Cleveland. It has grit like the city. Our people are first rate, humble, and work hard just like the people of Cleveland. Not to mention, we have a unified purpose – a mission – to be the best and serve our clients and community with dedicated passion. It’s a commitment you see throughout the city today.

I am not an emotional man but today has touched me. It is not just an ordinary day. It is October 25, 2016. The day a kid from Akron (technically Doylestown –  Go Chipps) celebrates all that is great in his life with those that are most important to him. I will cherish the Cavs banner ceremony, the first pitch of the World Series, and my little firm’s 6th anniversary. Without hard work, passion, focus, great people with amazing skill, and the support of the community today wouldn’t be possible.

Thank you Cleveland for being you. Each day I try to give back what you have given me.

 

Go Tribe!

Congrats Cavs!

Way to go Willory team – Bob, Jamie, Angie, Lisa, Laura, Bridgette, Christine, Tammy, Mindy, Holly, Cristina, and Ann!

 

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