The Inside Edge: All-star cast for 'FrenchieSkate'Proceeds for show to benefit North Star Reach children's summer camp
Fans in the Detroit area will have a golden opportunity to see big stars skate for a good cause on the night of Friday, Feb. 27.
"FrenchieSkate," organized by three-time Greek champion Georgia Glastris, brings a stellar cast to the Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. Proceeds benefit North Star Reach, a free camp for children with serious and life-threatening health issues who would otherwise be unable to have the summer camp experience.
Scheduled to perform are Alissa Czisny, Jeremy Abbott, Patrick Chan, Adam Rippon, Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, DeeDee Leng and Simon Shnapir and many more. (Lineup is subject to change.) Michael Buckley will host. More information is available at FrenchieSkate.com.
This is the fourth time Glastris has organized the skating benefit, in honor of her childhood best friend, Francesca Perisco, nicknamed "Frenchie." Perisco died from neuroblastoma, a type of cancer, when she was 10. Glastris was devoted to her throughout the progression of the illness.
"I spent pretty much every day with her," Glastris said. "I held her hand when she got chemo. That's what made me realize how important having fun and having great friends around you is. It was important to me to make sure she felt loved."
Glastris organized the first FrenchieSkate event in 2008 in Chicago, where she and Persico lived.
"We were all junior-level skaters, but the cast included Alexa Scimeca, Jason Brown, Danny O'Shea, DeeDee Leng, Agnes Zawadzki, all the Chicago skaters," Glastris said. "They're all my friends. It's incredible to see how much they've all grown."
"Shortly after Francesca passed away in 2002, Georgia and I became the best of friends," Scimeca said. "Georgia and I spent countless sleepovers together and weekends that were unforgettable. One memory of mine that will always remain is the photo of Georgia and Frenchie that was in her bedroom. Georgia has done an amazing job keeping Francesca's memory alive and I am so fortunate and thankful to know a person with such passion and love that she has to support the children at North Star Reach."
After she moved to the Detroit area to train, Glastris decided to organize a third FrenchieSkate event last year, which she says raised $30,000. She hopes to exceed that total at Friday's show.
Last weekend, Glastris invited some of the children involved with North Star Reach to skate with a number of the skating stars in the show; Chan, Abbott, Csizny, Hubbell and Dohohue, as well as Daniel Eaton, took to the ice for a fun session with the kids.
"I'm so excited to be a part of Frenchie Skate for the second year in a row," Abbott said. "Georgia Glastris is a good friend of mine. When she invited me to be a part of this show last year I was just honored to be asked, but as I learned about North Star Reach, and how they help children with serious health challenges and their families, I really wanted to do whatever I could to help Georgia grow this amazing endeavor."
Glastris is taking the year off from skating while she finishes up at the University of Michigan and applies to medical school. She still trains every day and plans to return to competition. She credits her friendship with Persico as part of the reason she wants to become a doctor.
"The brain truly interests me, and I could see myself going into that field, because she had brain cancer," Glastris said. "One day, I hope to be able to save somebody like Frenchie so they don't have to lose their best friend like I did."
2015 U.S. ladies intermediate champion, Kassandra Carpentier, has added another piece of shiny hardware to her gold medal. On the night of Feb. 24, mayor Joseph Petty of Worcester, Massachusetts, presented the 12-year-old with the key to the city.
Carpentier is coached by her mother, former pairs skater Genevieve Coulombe, and stepfather, former ice dancer Dmitry Kazarlyga, at the Colonial Figure Skating Club. She also trains with Konstantin Kostin and Jessica Dupuis.
Carpentier was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was three months old.
"She was actually dying," her mother said. "She's like a little miracle. We went to eight different doctors. They couldn't figure it out, because cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease."
Although her mother didn't know it, one of her relatives had had cystic fibrosis in the 1950s. Once the diagnosis was finally made, Carpentier spent several months in the hospital before coming home.
"Now, she's been growing really well," Coulombe said. "Doctors think that skating is really good for her. Her doctor called me last week to congratulate me. He was pretty amazed. He thinks that it is helping her. She has some great lungs so far. She does a lot of breathing treatments."
Carpentier started skating when she was 18 months old. Now that she is the intermediate champion, she plans to move up to novice next season, and she says she hopes to win again.
"I just want to keep training and hope to do the same next year," Carpentier said. "I want to…have all my triples. I'm working on all of them. Right before nationals I could do Salchow, toe and loop. I'm working on flip and Lutz."
Carpentier's free skate next season will be to Charlie Chaplin; she says she likes portraying a character. Her new short program, to Celine Dion's "Fly," has a very personal significance.
"It means a lot to me, because she's singing that song to her niece that's dying of cystic fibrosis," she said.