All of my childhood dreams have come true!!
Well, the most important one at least – seeing Kristi Yamaguchi! As a figure skater from the age of 7 to 16, obviously my role model and inspiration was Kristi Yamaguchi, and it was like our own family member won the championship when she took the gold at the 1992 Olympics. Now with two lovely daughters and married to Carolina Hurricanes hockey player Bret Hedican (who won the Stanley Cup in 2006 – of course Kristi wouldn’t settle for anything less than a champion, duh), she continues to show her love of figure skating by supporting organizations such as Figure Skating in Harlem.
Figure Skating in Harlem is an amazing not-for-profit organization that provides an innovative ice skating and education program for girls in the Harlem community between the ages of 6 and 18 designed to build positive self-worth, teamwork, leadership, independence, and academic achievement. Like all sports, skating requires dedication, determination, and hard work that these young girls learn and can apply to all aspects of their lives.
The evening started off with performances by the Figure Skating in Harlem team to showcase the girls’ hard work and what everyone’s efforts have been going towards. Afterwards, there was an acknowledgement ceremony on the ice to thank all of the honorees, sponsors and supporters, and the second act of the show was to Michael Jackson’s Thriller to conclude the performances.
Figure skating and hockey stars took the ice, including 1976 Olympic legend Dorothy Hamill; three-time U.S. National Champion, Johnny Weir (who autographed a skater’s boot!); the adorable young talent of Mirai Nagasu; 2006 Olympic silver medalist, Sasha Cohen; U.S. National Champions Todd Eldredge and Jeremy Abbott; 2002 Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes; 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel; ice dancing partners Meryl Davis & Charlie White and Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto; and hockey stars Ron Duguay, Rod Gilbert, Ron Greschner, and Bret Hedican were also on hand (minus padding and sticks) for the festivities.
I wanted to go up to each of them and asked for their autographs, but after a few minutes of stalking I realized that I would have been the only person over the age of 12 asking for autographs, so I let the giddy children have their moment of glory with the stars.
… And there’s more!
Candace Matthews, the FSH Board Chair and Chief Marketing Officer of Amway, was one of the 2010 Honorees of the evening, along with Tamara Tunie of Law and Order: SVU serving as Chair Emerita of the Board of Directors for Figure Skating in Harlem. Tunie also brought her fellow cast members, Christopher Meloni, Richard Belzer, B. D. Wong, and Ice-T (and I wished his wife Coco a belated happy birthday!).
Terry Lundgren, CEO of Macy’s Inc, with his wife Tina Lundgren and Donald Trump (it is his ice rink, after all) and his wife Melania Trump were the honorary chairs along with Rod and Judy Gilbert. Evan Lysacek, 2010 Olympic gold medalist, is also a regular attendee of the gala, but a letter was read on his behalf as he is currently competing on Dancing with the Stars (be sure to cast your votes!).
If you missed the gala, do not despair! The gala’s silent auction continues online through April 21. Visit www.charitybuzz.com and under the Figure Skating in Harlem lot, find great auction items, including lunch with Olympic Gold Medalists Evan Lysacek (aah!) or Kristi Yamaguchi (eee!), or hang out with Scott Hamilton, Johnny Weir or Gloria Gaynor (also an avid supporter of FSH), among many other great items!
It was such an honor being among the presence of such greatness who provide such inspiration to our youth today, and keep us older kids dreaming!
More about Figure Skating in Harlem:
Figure Skating in Harlem has served over 1,000 New York City girls since 1997 with an innovative education and ice-skating program that transforms young lives and helps Harlem girls grow in confidence, leadership, and academic achievement. Proceeds from this benefit event will help FSH continue to grow and become an even stronger resource for children in the community. FSH also hopes to develop a base of support that will help them secure a home rink of their own with access to skating and educational facilities year-round in Upper Manhattan.
Corporate sponsors of the 2010 Skating with the Stars gala included Amway, New York Post, Bloomberg, Continental Airlines, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, The Walt Disney Company, BNY Mellon, CooperKatz & Company, Inc., Marshalls, The Nielsen Company, Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation, UBS, Con Edison, Fitzgerald + CO, and Gucci.