Monday, July 11, 2011

Encouraging the Heart

Sometimes, caring is quiet. It doesn't shout; it just moves along embracing causes and gathering support as it goes. It is born from great love - and many times from great loss - but in the end, the strength of its will, the size  and depth of its commitment, can change the course of so many lives.

So it is with a good friend of mine.

The first time I remember meeting Nicholas (Nick) LaRoche was at a competition in Pennsylvania. He was probably 11 or 12 at the time. Over the years, I watched Nick become a wonderfully talented skater. I saw him win the National Junior Men's title in 2002. I saw his last skate -  his short program at the 2009 U.S. National Championships. He never skated the long. I cried.

Nick and his sister Tricia's story is well chronicled so I will not retell it here. What I will say is that they chose to come out the far side of great personal tragedy to do great good. If people are meant to have a purpose in life, this is theirs.

If you haven't heard of the US Athletic Foundation, it wouldn't surprise me at all. As I said before, sometimes caring is quiet. But what these two extraordinary people have chosen to do with their commitment and their lives has affected many others who have worked hard to succeed but who have also found the wall of training and competing expenses nearly insurmountable. For the past few years, quietly and without great fanfare, this extraordinary brother and sister team has reached out to help. They have made a difference, not to bolster their personal egos but to be a supporting wrung on a ladder to success for athletes in need.

Several months ago, again quietly and without great fanfare, Nick and Tricia started approaching some of Nick's skater friends to assist them in raising money for their Foundation supporting athletes in all sports. Phone calls, emails, Facebook requests all garnered response for what is being billed as "An Evening on Ice." A simple name to remember, but a show with a purpose and one that will be hard to forget. Nick's friends, some of whom have received support from the US Athletic Foundation, began coming on board. World medalists, Olympic team members, International champions, US National Champions, Grand Prix Champions. By the time the list was complete, it was clear that this was anything but a Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney "Let's do a show" show. This was an outpouring of love and a show of support for two remarkable people whose only purpose is to make a difference.

Sometimes caring is quiet. But sometimes it needs a clarion voice. That's why I'm writing this blog. I want you to know about Nick and Tricia. I want you to know about their Foundation and about this remarkable show with extraordinary talent. If you are in or around the Burbank area, do yourself a favor: Buy a ticket (or two, three or more) to "An Evening on Ice" at the Pickwick Ice Center August 12, at 7:30PM. Be embraced by the positive power of love and support, and the dream of two people who want nothing more than to help other athletes succeed by giving them what they need most - a helping hand.
Click to view video on YouTube

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