“The Skating Club of Boston and the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation Join Forces and Break Records”
This article was originally published in the February 2018 Issue of SKATING Magazine.
The Skating Club of Boston® welcomed the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation to Boston, November 30 – December 1, in a remarkable celebration of fundraising, skating and community. For two days, Club members came together to not only raise money for the Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer – Boston event, but to prove that the power of figure skating extends well beyond the ice rink.
For those of you not yet familiar with its work, Olympic Champion Scott Hamilton created his eponymous Foundation out of his own experiences with cancer, and to take what he had learned from fighting the disease to help others across the country. The CARES Foundation’s mission is to support both cancer research and its survivors, and it established the Sk8 to Elimin8 series of events as a platform for every U.S. Figure Skating club to get involved. The CARES Foundation slogan “To Turn Cancer Upside DownTM” is truly its mission, and every member of its leadership team proved to be as committed and passionate and focused on its audacious mission, as Scott himself. They are a small, but impressive team, and they could not have been more generous with their time and support to make the Boston benefit all that it could be. They warmly embraced our event committee, and helped create an experience that was not only profound, but a lot of fun too.
We planned the Sk8 to Elim8 Cancer – Boston event to be multi-dimensional, and to take advantage of Club resources as well as all those available from the CARES Foundation. It included a two-month, on-line fundraising drive, an outdoor ice show and celebration at Boston’s annual tree lighting ceremony, Scott visiting children receiving treatment at both the Mass General Cancer Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a luncheon at the home of Club member Peter Lynch, and an on-ice celebration and ice show at the Club’s home facility on December 1st. It was a whirlwind of events, and an emotional, meaningful, and ultimately, uplifting journey for everyone involved.
Club management was initially hesitant to commit to a Boston fundraiser. Like a lot of clubs, our Club has a full year of regularly scheduled events, and we were not sure how adding in a major fundraiser at the end of the year between our send-offs for the Sectional and U.S. Championships would appeal to the membership. Would they be exhausted? Too focused on the competitive season? Distracted by the holiday season? Tapped out from other year-end fundraising appeals? We hoped we could raise the $25,000 we initially discussed with the Foundation’s leadership, but we weren’t even sure of that.
What we learned very quickly was that the shared experience of cancer is an unbelievably powerful stimulus. Close to 100 members signed up for the on-line crowd sourcing campaign in October, and raised $25,000 in a little over a week. We were astounded. And excited at just how wrong we had been. We increased our goal to $50,000. Then to $75,000. After that, $100,000. And then we stopped posting thermometers all together, and just let the membership decide the final effort. In the end, the Club raised a record breaking $165,000 for the Foundation, with at least 20% of the funds staying local with the Mass General Cancer Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Significantly too, 34 skaters raised a minimum of $1,000 each, and performed a solo program during the on-ice celebration. One coach even came out of retirement to perform a program with her students in a tribute to her sister who had recently passed away from the disease. It was just one of many moving experiences for us all.
I could not be prouder of the Club’s membership, its membership director, and our volunteer members who led the effort. I have been involved with figure skating in one way or another for a large part of my career, and this experience reminded me of something I learned leading the local organizing committees for several U.S. and World Championships. Don’t ever come between a skating volunteer and their mission! You are a formidable community, and once focused on success, you rarely miss. And in Boston, skaters and skating volunteers demonstrated to the larger Boston community the power and generosity of their sport. And now, maybe even to the country. I think we are all very proud of that.
I encourage the membership at every U.S. Figure Skating club to get involved and host a Sk8 to Elimin8 Cancer event of their own. The folks at the CARES Foundation will provide the platform and road map for success, and meaningful support every step of the way. It can be done with little to no club resources too. Our Club is fortunate to have relationships with the City of Boston and connections with its medical institutions. But every club invariably has members with relationships to the community, including the media and your local medical institution(s). The Foundation’s on-line fundraising platform could not be easier to use, and provided a great home page for Club members to share their reasons for getting involved, personal photos, and check their fundraising efforts and those of their friends. And in the end, every one of your skater’s social media contacts will be become your most powerful tool of all.
Importantly, your club community will benefit as much as the CARES Foundation and your local medical provider will benefit from the proceeds. Our Club has a membership of over 800 members, most of whom are involved in one or more of the many U.S. Figure Skating disciplines. Everyone is doing different things and on different schedules. Some at different ice rinks. The unifying goal to raise as much money as we could, created a shared experience for everyone. People came together, and the event demonstrated the power of one to members young and old alike. It gave all of us the opportunity to make a difference and doing something great with own experiences with the disease. And in the end, this event touched our entire community because the disease itself has touched our entire community.
More information about the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation and its Sk8 to Elimin8 fundraising events can be found at scottcares.org. or by emailing Nadia Kogeler, the National Sk8 to Elimin8 Manager at email@example.com. Don’t underestimate your club. Identify a leader within your membership and think big! That’s all it takes. And it’s what Scott certainly did when he created the CARES Foundation.
Zeghibe, Doug. “The Skating Club of Boston and the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation Join Forces and Break Records.” SKATING, Feb. 2018.