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The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - March 29

Rabbitt organizes a show to raise funds for Japan

Sean Rabbitt organized a show at his skating club to raise money for disaster victims in Japan.
Sean Rabbitt organized a show at his skating club to raise money for disaster victims in Japan. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(03/29/2011) - Sean Rabbitt heard about the earthquake in Japan while it was still happening.

He had just gotten home from a Japanese class at Fullerton College on the night of March 11 when a friend in Japan tweeted at him, "Right now we're in the middle of an earthquake."

A few minutes later, more friends tweeted, "We're still in the middle of an earthquake." So he turned on the TV and watched the terrible events unfold.

"I was thinking they'd be OK, because their buildings are really earthquake-proof," he said by telephone last weekend. "Then when the tsunami came I was speechless. Watching it almost live -- I had no words for it. It was terrible to watch."

Rabbitt's interest in Japan goes back a long way. His family had neighbors from Japan and Rabbitt and his older brother became good friends with them. Rabbitt's brother took Japanese in high school, but Rabbitt had to wait until college; as a skater, he was home-schooled. He has been studying Japanese for three years and he has been to Japan three times. He says he has a lot of friends there.

For the first few days after the earthquake and tsunami, Rabbitt's thoughts and energy were spent finding out if his friends were OK. After that, he wondered if he could help the relief efforts by raising money.

"I thought, 'Why don't we try to get a show together now, while it's fresh in our minds,'" he said. "Our club is the Glacier Falls Figure Skating Club, and they're always very supportive. My dad called the arena manager and they're donating some ice."

In a matter of days, the show, "Skaters Care," was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on April 3 at the Citizen's Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.

Rabbitt, his father Don, and the club president Audrey Von Zabern are organizing the show, along with judge George Rossano.

"We all have committees," said Rabbitt. "I will be doing the opening and closing number choreography."

He is also working tirelessly to promote the show and line up sponsors.

Once the word went out, skaters called in from all over offering to skate. The cast list currently includes Jeremy Abbott, Richard Dornbush, Adam Rippon, Caroline Zhang, Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin, Jana Khoklova and Fedor Andreev, Douglas Razzano, Alexe Gilles, Parker Pennington, Lindsay Davis and Themi Leftheris, Daisuke Murakami, Derrick Delmore, and many more. Bebe Liang and Braden Overett will be skating a duet.

"I was actually wanting to put something together to support relief for Japan, but Sean beat me to it!" Abbott told us. "I am very excited to be a part of this event. Japan is one of my favorite places to skate. The Japanese fans have always supported us and now we get to support them. I am happy the skating community is coming together to show our love and support for Japan."

"I am grateful to be part of this show for a great cause," said Murakami. "Being Japanese, I want to help as much as I can after what Japan has gone through this past month. I am so excited that many world skaters and my friends have committed to partake in this benefit show to help Japan as much as possible. It's a one-time show and I hope we will see many people there!"

In addition to the figure skaters, several speed skaters will participate, including Olympic champions Wang Meng and Sun Linlin and Olympic bronze medalist J. R. Celski.

"One of our main rinks has an Olympic speed skating team," Rabbitt said. "They told us they were interested in our show and they were pushing their whole club to buy tickets, so we came up with the idea of having their Olympic speed skaters to do an exhibition. At first a lot of us were a little skeptical, but a lot of the figure skating parents are very excited to see the speed skating."

"I am so excited to be a part of this amazing event," said Razzano. "I know many Japanese people, and they are so the kindest people I've ever met and to watch them suffering is heartbreaking. Also, Japan has given the sport of figure skating so much in the past decade and it is only right that we do what we can to aid them in their recovery."

"It's so much bigger than my expectations," Rabbitt said. "I love Japan, I love the culture, I love the language, and I'm just glad to do something to help, and we get to do something we love to do."

Proceeds from ticket sales and merchandise will go to the American Giving Charitable Fund, benefiting the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. Rabbitt told us that after the show they will be looking into making a video available.

Ticket information and a full cast list is posted at http://www.skaterscare.com.

Kerrs withdraw
John Kerr posted the following announcement on his Facebook page today:

"I am sorry to announce that Sinead and I will not be participating at the world championships in Moscow. Sinead re-injured her shoulder in a training accident three weeks ago, and medical opinion has now advised that it would be impossible for her to be ready for that event. She is going in for surgery tomorrow and the recovery is expected to be about two months."

More shows
Spring has sprung, and so has club show season, as you have probably noticed. The re-scheduling of the 2011 World Championships has meant that some guest stars won't be able to perform in various shows, although everyone understands!

Dorothy Hamill and Michael Buckley will host and Jeremy Abbott, Melanie Lambert and Fred Palascak will skate in Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov's "Proud Nation 2011" show on April 8 in Simsbury, Conn. http://www.isccskate.com.

Melissa Bulanhagui, Wesley Campbell and Sean Rabbitt will appear in the second annual "One Step Closer" HIV/AIDS benefit April 9 in West Orange, N.J. http://www.OneStepCloserNYC.org

The Skating Club of Wilmington (Delaware) show April 14 - 16 will include Ashley Wagner, Armin Mahbanoozadeh, Stephen Carriere, Alexander Zahradnicek and Viktor Pfeiffer. http://www.skatewilm.com/

We're looking forward to "Ice Chips" April 2 and 3 in Boston with Olympic champions Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao. http://www.icechips.org/

Fools
April 1 is almost upon us, so here are some stories from a few of our favorite figure skating fools!

Ross Miner: Juliana Cannarozzo took advantage of my love for Oreos and replaced the filling with white toothpaste. She had a ball. I didn't think it tasted that bad (I finished it).

Wesley Campbell: A few years ago, my roommate moved my car while I was sleeping, parked it on the street two blocks away and put my keys back where I'd left them on the counter. I totally flipped out when I went to leave that morning! Ran back in the house, sure it was stolen, trying to figure out what to do, and he laughed at me and I was like... 'Oh yeah, it's definitely April 1. Awesome.'

Mirai Nagasu: I know I've been pranked but I can't remember any. But I always go egg hunting on Easter!

Simon Shnapir: I would say the best joke ever played on me was 14 years ago. It was the snowstorm of April 1, 1997. School was canceled and I was watching TV at home and my Dad calls me over and says school is not canceled, it is delayed for a couple of hours. I was so upset I had to get ready for school. Right before I was ready to go he called me over and said, 'April Fools!' He got me good.

Melissa Bulanhagui: My brother Ed tied aluminum cans to the back of my car. So I drove around Newark thinking that my car was about to explode and I was turning heads as I pulled into work. The best part was, it wasn't even April Fools' Day.

Taylor Toth: In elementary school I always wanted to go to school with crutches. So, I would always take April Fools' day as a good opportunity to 'have a broken leg.' By the third grade it didn't fool many.

Sarah and Drew
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