By Lynn Rutherford
Spring-like weather, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees, added to the festive atmosphere on Jan. 7, when New York’s Citi Pond at Bryant Park hosted “The Skate Against Breast Cancer,” presented by Iced Pink Inc., a 501 (c) (3) public charity promoting breast cancer awareness.
The event, hosted by 1968 and 1972 U.S. Olympian JoJo Starbuck, who won three U.S. pair titles with partner Ken Shelley, and 2002 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel, drew a cast of Olympians including 2006 world champion and 2007 U.S. champion Kimmie Meissner; 2007 U.S. silver medalist Emily Hughes; four-time U.S. ice dance silver medalists Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov; 1995 U.S. champion and world bronze medalist Nicole Bobek; and newly formed pair of Eve Chalom, two-time U.S. ice dance silver medalist and Jonathan Hunt, the 2003 world junior pair medalist.
2002 Olympic champion Sarah Hughes joined the co-hosts on ice to speak about her family’s fight against breast cancer and introduce sister Emily, and the finale featured dozens of young skaters from the New York area.
For Nancy Sherman, who founded Iced Pink with fellow skating mom and breast cancer survivor Bari Cenname, it was a dream fulfilled.
“It’s wonderful all of these Olympians are here today and they’re volunteering their time, and 30 children are going to be skating in the show,” Sherman, a Long Island attorney whose 10-year-old daughter, Illana, competed in the pre-juvenile ranks this season, said.
“This is what I envisioned: to have Olympic skaters and other world skaters volunteer, skate and be a positive influence on all of these young, aspiring skaters, so that they can also skate in shows and make people aware of the causes and symptoms of breast cancer.”
Many of the show’s performers have been personally touched by the disease. Emily and Sarah’s mother, Amy Beth, is a breast cancer survivor, as was Starbuck’s mother. Gregory lost her mother, Dale, to another form of cancer. After her 15-year-old friend, Kati, died of the disease, Meissner began working with the Cool Kids Campaign to improve the quality of life for children diagnosed with cancer and their families.
Sherman, who was diagnosed in 2001, is determined to fight the disease with education and information.
“My youngest daughter [Illana] is an avid figure skater and after spending so much time at the rink on a daily basis, it occurred to me I should create an organization in which young figure skaters would be able to increase breast cancer awareness,” she said. “So I asked [Cenname], another breast cancer survivor and mother, if she was interested, and she agreed. We enlisted Shannon [Leigh] Lenihan, who is an excellent choreographer and coach who we know from the Great Neck Parkwood Rink, and she was thrilled to help. “
The show, free to hundreds of spectators who gathered in the park, offered an entertaining and diverse group of programs.
Illana Sherman and Brooke Cenname dedicated their programs to their breast cancer survivor mothers. Another young competitor, 2010 juvenile ladies’ champion Dalia Rivkin, performed a stellar routine to music from The Matrix.
Emily Hughes, a recent Harvard graduate who is moving back to the New York area after accepting a job with Deloitte, performed to Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson’s lyrical “Winter Song.” Bobek took the ice for the fast-paced disco anthem “I Will Survive.” Gregory and Petukhov offered up an elegantly dramatic program to “Time to Say Goodbye,” while Chalom and Hunt charmed the crowd with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” choreographed by Ice Theatre of New York’s Doug Webster. Meissner closed the show with Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” highlighted by a huge double Axel.
For Goebel, an analytic consultant with Nielson whose professional life rules out training for performances, it was a chance to aide an important cause while reconnecting with old friends.
“I get asked to do shows and things like this every so often and my office schedule doesn’t really allow me to skate at all, so if I can do this kind of thing and still help out, I’m more than happy to do it,” Goebel, who graduated from Columbia University in May 2010 with a mathematics degree, said. “I got to come and see all my former peers and it’s for a great cause, plus its fun to sort of get back to my roots and skating family.”
Citi Pond donated an hour of ice time. Although the event was free to the public, raffle tickets and VIP seating were sold, and Iced Pink Inc. will donate net profits from the event to the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program at Adelphi University in Garden City, Long Island. The toll-free breast cancer hotline answers almost 4,000 calls each year. For more information, please visit www.adelphi.edu/nysbreastcancer/Index.html. Learn more about Iced Pink Inc. on its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/IcedPinkInc
To view a photo gallery of the event, click here.