Daily Voice reporters share with readers the gems of Bergen and Passaic Counties they've found on their beats in 2016.
These are places, people and activities that inspired us.
TENAFLY, N.J. — Back when I spoke to Tenafly's Max Horbund in November, I was surprised to learn that he had not been painting for his entire life.
Horbund's studio was filled with hundreds of pieces and his knowledge of the craft was immense.
Painting was what he always wanted to do, but it took more than half his life — and a near-death experience — for him to realize it.
His story was an inspiration , but not unusual for Bergen County residents.
Ridgewood's Robert Gilligan took on the grand task, also later in his life, of pursuing his dream of travel.
Gilligan had always been friendly and he wanted to find other people like him who wanted to go out and do things.
His meet-up group, "Gilligan's Adventures," began with trips to restaurants in New York City or Autumn fairs in the local area. The group grew to such a size that allowed Gilligan's ambitions to grow with them.
In 2017, the group plans to go to Iceland and Madagascar.
Business dreams have also been actualized.
Like Dumont Chocolateur Evelyn Quigley, who recalled when she first walked into the store "Making Chocolate," looking for a job.
This year, she transformed the brick and mortar store into online-only as the sole owner. According to Quigley, business has never been better.
In the spirit of new year's resolutions, some Bergen County residents have achieved their health and wellness dreams.
Jason Timochko of Haworth, for example, never thought he'd run a marathon. At one point he was 70 pounds overweight.
Even 1 mile seemed impossible when he first started.
After years of long-distance running, he this year qualified for the Boston Marathon . Timochko will be running in the event along with other Bergen County friends.
Some dreams are just starting.
After going to school for film, Lodi resident Evan Febrillet discovered he was better off posting his pictures to Instagram than trying to navigate the politics of Hollywood.
He plans to open a studio one day. With the success that other Bergen County residents have had, that day might not be far off.
2016 has a reputation for being a "bad year," but these people showed what can be accomplished when you pursue your passion.