"Skate for Hope:" Making a Difference

Johnny Weir and Carolyn Bongirno

The 2011 annual “Skate for Hope” show was the most successful event organizers have produced in the fund-raiser’s eight-year history.

The gala event, which raises money for breast cancer research and to bring awareness to the disease, collected an unprecedented $75,000 this year, $14,000 more than in 2010.

To date, the organization has raised a combined total of $350,000. Beneficiaries include the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast cancer research at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at Ohio State University, and the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer in Ft. Wayne, Ind.

The Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio hosted the gala on June 18. The star-studded cast included Johnny Weir, Sarah Hughes, Emily Hughes, Rachael Flatt, Alexe Gilles, Caitlin Yankowskas, Emily Samuelson, Ryan Bradley and Mary Beth Marley and Rockne Brubaker. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin made their debut as a pairs team.

Marcy Hinzmann Harris (the 2002 U.S. Junior ice dance champion) and her husband Lee Harris also took the ice for a dancing duet.

Yankowskas and Samuelson joined Flatt and Gilles in an ensemble number to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” which delighted the 3,000 people in attendance.

“This year, the four of us (Caitlin, Emily, Alexe and I) had so much fun with our number to ‘Single Ladies,’” Flatt said. “it certainly brought us together. We finished the choreography with Kate McSwain at 1:30 in the morning on the day of the show.

“Carolyn (Bongirno, the event’s founder) and her cast and crew put on yet another fabulous event this year, and I truly appreciate her time and effort to raise money for this cause.”

McSwain said she was honored to have the opportunity to choreograph the number. “Being a part of this visionary event, and bringing to it my passion for choreography, was an unbelievable dream for me,” she said.

“Carolyn is doing everything right: reaching out to local skating communities, inviting skaters nationwide who want to participate, integrating young skaters with their role models, all while making a difference for a cure for cancer.”

Bongirno, an adult figure skater and breast cancer survivor, founded “Skate for Hope” in 2004. “It is the intention of ‘Skate for Hope’ to utilize figure skating, a sport that epitomizes women’s strength, to help bring attention, resources, and education to the fight against breast cancer,” she said.

Originally published in October 2011