All this time, right here at the Jersey Shore, we have had a local connection to  Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,...and you may have met her.

Nicole Ginsburg, who I am blessed to call a friend, is someone whom I have frequently referred to as the 'penguin-whisperer' because she is caretaker to the penguins at Jenkinson's Aquarium. Many of you have met her on the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk during our live shows when she has opened the aquarium doors and allowed some of those beautiful penguins to waddle their way over to the microphone and meet your kids.

There has been an outpouring of love and condolences for Nicole (who lives in Ocean Grove) and her family from so many of us who are saddened by the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Nicole got to grow up knowing that her Aunt Ruth (who she called Aunt Kiki) was a champion of human rights. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after graduating first in her class from Columbia, didn't take no for an answer when law firms didn't want to hire women (especially a Jewish mom of a young child.) Instead, RBG went on to become a woman who defied expectations and led the Supreme Court in landmark decisions that expanded the rights of women.

Photo courtesy of Nicole Ginsburg

RBG's opinions will live on in law schools, but Aunt Ruth will live on in Nicole's heart and that of her entire family. And 'Aunt Kiki' loved her niece Nicole's career working with and caring for penguins at the aquarium.

Nicole says she has some beautiful memories of Ruth (her grandpa's brother's wife) and that Ruth always made sure to tell Nicole that she was Marty's favorite (knowing that Nicole thought her Uncle Marty hung the moon.) Nicole says of losing Ruth, "I 've been trying to catch my breath and stop crying but it hasn't worked out just yet." Our hearts are with you, Nicole.

Here's what Nicole has written for all of those who have reached out:

"I've been racking my brain to find the right things to say about the way I'm feeling. I first want to start by saying how full my heart is from the tremendous amount of condolences and heartfelt messages my family and I have received. I am so overwhelmed to see how much love this amazing woman has created in her lifetime. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) has always been one of my major inspirations to pursue my dreams. I cherish every single memory I ever had with her. Our nation has been hit terribly with hardships this year but this one has been the most devastating. Instead of living in fear and uncertainty of the future, I will follow in her footsteps and continue to be strong and fight for what is right, just like she would have done. I am truly blessed to have known her."

Nicole says Ruth had been battling pancreatic cancer on and off for the last couple of years and she just couldn't beat it this time.

Today, Nicole, I am wrapping you in a hug, and I know that you will continue to make RBG proud.

Cindy Claus with and Nicole Ginsburg -on the right- from Jenkinson's Aquarium holding baby penguins.

(And PS...thanks for taking care of those beautiful penguins at Jenkinson's Aquarium throughout this pandemic!)