Skate for Hope looks to raise money for cancer research

Tara Jones and Tara Jones

It was one cancer survivor’s mission to help others with the disease by founding Skate for Hope.

That organization is now coming to the University.

Saturday’s performance at the Ice Arena will feature 107 fundraisers, ranging from the ages of five to 55. Skate For Hope aims to earn $35,000 to $50,000 and bring in an audience of about 2,500.

Carolyn Bongirno founded Skate For Hope in 2004. The adult figure skater and breast cancer survivor wanted to find a way to help children and young adults cope when a family member was diagnosed with cancer.

“I’ve met so many children who were deeply affected by cancer. I wanted to find a way to help those kids to cope. Even more, I wanted to give them a way to help,” Bongirno said.

Skate For Hope is an organization founded on the premise of fundraising. Children and young adults that raise $450 have the opportunity to skate in the show with some of the best skaters the figure skating world has to offer. The skaters then are allowed to bring cancer survivors they know to sit front and center for the performance to be recognized.

That money comes from the funds raised by the skaters, corporate sponsors and ticket sales. There will also be a raffle at the event featuring items donated by athletes from the Sochi Olympics. The event’s proceeds will go to the Scott Hamilton Cares Foundation.

For the first time in the 11 years that Skate For Hope, Olympic Gold Mentalist and Bowling Green native Scott Hamilton is joining fellow gold medalist Sarah Hughes to host the event.

This will be Hughes’ third year attending a Skate For Hope event. She said she initially got involved because her mother had breast cancer.

She said each year Bongirno makes the event bigger and bigger, but this year will be bigger than ever with the addition of Hamilton.

“It’s brought a lot of people in the skating community together,” Hughes said. “Here’s a way of doing something that we all love and we can raise money and support each other. It’s a terrible disease and it’s nice to know there’s someone else out there who knows what you’re going through.”

Shelly Bressler is the Skate For Hope northwest Ohio Event Ambassador and she is in charge of getting skaters from northwest Ohio to become cast members.

She said Skate For Hope is a unique show that teaches children how to help others and brings people together to skate for survivors.

The foundation has risen more than half a million dollars for cancer research and hopes to continue to increase that amount with events like those at the Ice Arena.