I don’t often write the Club membership directly, if ever. I am reaching out now to ask you to take a small, but very important action; and to begin by reading this email in its entirety.
We are all Busy, Worn and Weary
I know many of our skaters and families are very focused on the important competition season as we look ahead to the U.S. Championships and National Developmental Camp. But I ask you to pause from the hustle and bustle of skating and the rest of your busy lives, and to think about someone you have lost to cancer or whose life has been affected by cancer. This is not to be morose or maudlin, but because I know each and every one of our lives have in some way been touched by cancer. For this very reason, the Club has decided to partner once again with Olympic champion, Scott Hamilton and the important work he does every day with the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation.
I know many of us are weary, worn, and ragged from the last 20 months of dealing with life in the pandemic. I am weary myself. We all want things to just get back to normal. But many folks with cancer have been dealing with their disease for much longer than 20 months, and some have lost the battle too soon, like beloved Club member, Cleo Theodoropulos.
Who was Cleo?
For those who did not have the wonderful pleasure of knowing Cleo, she was one of the brightest lights in our Club’s community. Cleo began her skating journey in the open air at center ice, taking lessons with her mom at the Club’s Skating Academy program at the Boston Common Frog Pond. That journey led to 1240 Soldiers Field Road where Cleo volunteered in The Skating Academy; became a Junior Activities Committee member and eventual Co-Chair; performed in Ice Chips and the Holiday Pageant; and always with a big, bright smile; dressed in her favorite color, yellow; and exuding joy and laughter whenever possible.
Cleo was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in April 2019. Several of her good friends were away at an international Theatre On Ice competition in France at the time. None of her friends in France or at home knew of her diagnosis, as she was going to share the news with them as soon as the team returned and everyone could be together. And then, without friends really being aware of what was going on in her life, Cleo died. She abruptly passed away within a week of her diagnosis.
What is CAYAO?
The Club has planned an all-day event on December 4th with the goal of supporting the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation, Mass General Brigham and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The money earmarked for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (25% of all proceeds) will be going towards its all-new Center for Adolescent and Youth Adult Oncology (CAYAO). CAYAO is an incredibly important space for teens being treated for cancer. These kids are too mature to be treated in the pediatric cancer center, yet they are still not adults. CAYAO is a space created and designed specifically for teens. When Cleo first passed away, her school and Club friends came together to raise more than $30,000, which became the seed money to launch CAYAO.
CAYAO is already a significant resource for Dana-Farber. We learned last week from the doctor who treated Cleo that she is seeing 50-60 young teen patients a day. 50-60 teens with cancer. Every day. Cancer did not stop for the pandemic or hit the pause button. This is why I am asking you to hit your own “pause” button now to do what you can to help raise dollars for this important effort.
How can I help, Katharine?
There are many ways to get involved depending on how involved you would like to get. Four years ago, when the Club first partnered with Scott, we raised $165,000 – STILL the most funds raised by any skating club in the country for the CARES Foundation. So, let’s come together to do it again, and even bigger! Let’s raise $250,000 this time. Because we can. We are that caring, and we are that good.
- You can sign-up for the peer-to-peer fundraising by clicking here. There are many incentives for fundraisers at all levels.
- Of special note is that the top 4 fundraisers will get to appear in A Night of Stars, the Club’s grand opening celebration, and guest star alongside Olympic, World, International and National medalists.
- The top 6 through 10 top fundraisers will star in the Tree Lighting Spectacular at the Boston Common Frog Pond on Thursday, December 2nd. Scott will be the emcee, and may even interview some of the fundraisers before they perform.
- You can get friends and family to sponsor you in your peer-to-peer fundraising efforts to skate in the Dedham Savings Frozen 5K (35 laps) on Saturday, December 4th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm in the West Rink, and to take the opening lap with Scott and Cleo’s mom, Amanda. You can learn more about the Frozen 5K by clicking here.
- If nothing else, please buy tickets to see A Night of Stars on December 4th in the Tenley E. Albright Performance Center. Scott will be the emcee of the show, and his friends and colleagues will be skating or in the audience with us. Ticket proceeds from A Night of Stars are one of the biggest drivers for the Club’s effort. Tickets for the show can be purchased at scboston.org/tickets.
- You can also bid on one of the fabulous silent auction items that will be available online starting next week, or bid to win a raffle basket on the night of the performance. Please look for an email announcement next week regarding the silent auction.
My Own Story…and Others
I know too many of our members who have been treated at both Mass General Brigham and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I just learned yesterday of a new member who has moved to the area to have her young daughter receive treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In addition to this little girl and the loss of Cleo from our Club community, I have my own personal story with cancer touching my life. As we all do. My brother has been battling brain cancer for several years. He is only alive today because of the amazing care and treatment that he has received at the neuro-oncology department at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I also know of many Club members who have received treatment at the Mass General Brigham Cancer Center. All are alive today because of the superlative treatment and patient care they received. We are incredibly fortunate that we live in one of the world’s most advanced medical centers, and that we have so many options for optimum care; more lasting, if not permanent, recoveries; and a better quality of life. A wonderful way in which to honor someone who is fighting cancer, or who may have passed from cancer, is to give the gift of hope and support to someone else with cancer. Because the line is long and the need is real.
Let’s pause. Let’s come together. Let’s make a difference. We won’t have Ice Chips this year, but we can still come together as a community and do something powerful. Let’s join with Scott to turn cancer upside down, while we celebrate our own good fortune. We all have a lot for which to be grateful….let’s share that gratitude by giving back. It won’t take very much if we each do a little.
Membership Services Director