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Olympic, champion figure skaters perform to send kids to camp

'Frenchiskate' benefit will pay for children with serious medical conditions to attend summer camp

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Angelina Hamblin used to take figure skating lessons, but never like this.

On a recent visit to the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, she spent some time one-on-one with Canadian Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan.

"It was pretty awesome because he knows a lot of stuff and he can help me with a lot of stuff," Hamblin said.

Chan worked with Hamblin on her three turns and cross cuts. The Olympic skater was impressed with his student.
"Awesome. She did really really well," said Chan.
Chan, was one of several champion figure skaters to spend time with children who struggle with medical conditions or illnesses. 

The children were connected to the Olympic and champion skaters through the nonprofit North Star Reach. The agency sends children and their families to camp for free.
"I wanted to come skate with the kids," Chan said.
Chan won two silver medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, for men's figure skating and the team skating event. The three-time world champion said its important as an Olympian and an ambassador of the support to give back to the kids.

"If I had someone to look up to when I was younger, a Kurt Browning, or a Brian Boitano or a Scott Hamilton, and if they came to the rink and helped me skate, and learn how to skate, that would be huge and it would be a dream come true," said Chan.
"I may not have that effect on the kids, but for me to share the knowledge I have and the knowledge I've learned along the years, I think that's really important."

Two-time U.S. national champion Alissa Czisny also feels it's valuable to spend time with the next generation. She emphasizes that it doesn't matter who they are, it's about giving the children attention.

"They probably could care less who we are but the fact that we're paying attention to them makes them feel really special," said Czisny.

The children skating last Saturday at DSC have serious health challenges and cannot always do everything other children do.  

"I have hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which is where I only have half a heart pretty much, and the other side is too small to pump, so my right side of heart has to do all the pumping," Hamblin said.

North Star Reach sends Hamblin and other children to camp with other children who have similar health conditions. Hamblin attended Victory Junction in North Carolina during heart, kidney and lung week.
"Pretty awesome because you get to do all different things that you haven't done before," said Hamblin.  "I like archery, the swimming and the woodshop."
"You never realize how important it is just to be normal until you can't be normal," Czisny said. "I think for us to be able to raise money to help them to have a normal childhood is the most important thing."

Czisny and Chan are part of all-star cast of figure skaters for FrenchieSkate 2015 this Friday at Compuware Arena in Plymouth. 

The money raised from the show will be given to North Star Reach to send children to camp.
Georgia Glastris, a three-times Greek national champion figure skater, is the founder and organizer of Frenchie Skate. 

The show is honor of her friend Francesca "Frenchie" Persico, who lost her battle with pediatric cancer.

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"Everyone in the cast is thrilled to be a part of this incredible group of skaters, to perform in front of so many friends and to honor the memory of my great friend Francesca "Frenchie" Persico, who lived life so fully and fought pediatric cancer so bravely. We chose North Star Reach as the beneficiary of FrenchieSkate because they are bringing joy to these special children and allowing them to let go of their diagnosis and just be kids at camp" said Glastris.

Marisa Hamet, 12, is one of the children who will be able to go to camp thanks to the benefit show.  Hamet had a liver transplant before she was two years old.

"I like doing the zip line and seeing my friends," said Hamet.

Hamet will be attending Camp Michitanki for the fifth time this summer. Her family says she begins counting down the days until she returns to camp on the day she leaves it. Campers love the friendships they make with their fellow campers and counselors.

"They know what you've been through, like, other people, they don't know when you say something about it, they don't know what you actually mean but people at camp do," said Hamet.

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In addition to Chan, Czisny and Glastris, the cast of the benefit show includes:

  • Jeremy Abbott, 2014 and 2010 US Olympic Team, 2014 Olympic Team Bronze medalist and 4-time US Men's Champion
  • Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, 2014 World Ice Dance Silver medalists, 2015 Canadian Champions, 2014/15 Grand Prix Final Champions and 2014 Olympians
  • Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 2015 US Ice Dance National Champions, and 2014 Olympians
  • Maia and Alex Shibutani, 2014 Olympians, 2011 World Ice Dance Bronze Medalists and 3-time US Silver Medalists
  • Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, 2015 US Pairs Champions
  • Adam Rippon, 2015 US Men's Silver Medalist and 2-time World Junior Champion
  • Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, 2014 Olympians and 2-time Canadian Ice Dance Bronze Medalists
  • Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, 2014 Four Continents Ice Dance Champions 2-time US Bronze Medalists
  • Elladj Balde, 2014 Canadian World Team Member and Canadian Junior Champion
  • Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, 2014 World Junior Ice Dance Champions and 2015 US Pewter Medalists
  • Reyna Hamui, 4x Mexican Ladies Champion
  • DeeDee Leng and Simon Shnapir, she a US Junior Ladies Champion and he a 2014 Olympic Team Pairs Bronze Medalist.

    Adult, child, student as well as VIP Meet & Greet tickets to FrenchieSkate 2015 are available for prices ranging from $20 to $75.
    Tickets are available online at CompuwareArena.com or the Compuware Arena Box Office (734) 453-8400.  The arena is located at 14900 Beck Road in Plymouth.

    For more information on FrenchieSkate 2015, click here.

    North Star Reach will soon be sending children to camp much closer to home.  It is building a camp in Pinckney that will be ready for campers and their families in 2016.