Students and Olympians raise funds for children at Yost

By Amrutha Sivakumar, Deputy Magazine Editor
Published March 9, 2014

They spend their days shuttling between school, training and competitions. Many of them spent the last three weeks competing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and are preparing for the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan in two weeks.

But on Sunday, these 15 groups of figure skaters and ice dancers took their day off to be a part of FrenchieSkate, an ice show at Yost Ice Arena that raised money for children with serious medical ailments.

FrenchieSkate began in 2010 when current LSA junior Georgia Glastris, member of the University’s figure skating club and reigning Greek National Champion in figure skating, organized a charity ice show in a Chicago suburb to commemorate her childhood friend Francesca Persico, who passed away 12 years ago from neuroblastoma cancer.

“I spent about from first grade to fourth grade holding her hand in the hospital while she got chemo,” Georgia said. “It just really opened my eyes to how hard life is for these kids, and just living in the hospital it’s just such a struggle.”

In its first year at the University, the event’s proceeds went toward funding North Star Reach, a provisional member of SeriousFun Camps, which aims to improve the standard of life for children with serious medical challenges by organizing socially, intellectually and athletically enriching overnight camps free of charge.

The figure skaters participating at the event combined the sport of ice skating with the art of ice dancing, skating on sets ranging from hip-hop to love ballads. Skaters present at the event included Jeremy Abbott, four-time U.S. National Champion and Olympic bronze medalist; Alissa Czisny, two-time U.S. National Champion; Alex Shibutani, 2011 World bronze medalist; and Kailyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, six-time Canadian national medalists.

“They’re not only incredible athletes, but they’re my best friends,” Glastis said. “It’s fun because it’s kids helping kids.”

American figure skater Jason Brown, who won a bronze medal in the team event in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, grew up in Chicago with Glastris and performed with her at the first FrenchieSkate.

“(Glastris) is someone who will do anything for her friends and she’s so giving, she’s always about helping others and in fact, that’s how she got this whole thing started,” Brown said.

Italian figure skater Valentina Marchei, four-time national champion and a contestant in the Sochi 2014 Olympics, skated to an acoustic ballad interpretation of Britney Spears’ “Toxic,” bringing triple axels to the pop track.

Wearing a Michigan Basketball jersey, Brown performed to M.C. Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,” adding a flavor of hip-hop to his routine.

“Shows are always great and I love being in front of an audience, and what’s so great about this is that everyone here is friends,” Brown said. “It’s so much fun and to be a part of this is really special.”