Famous skaters take the ice to honor cancer survivors

11/17/2011 12:00 AM

11/17/2011 8:26 AM

Tune your TV to Fox's presentation of "Kaleidoscope on Ice" on Thanksgiving Day and observant Charlotte viewers might recognize the arena being used as the backdrop for performances by several big-name figure skaters and musical guests.

The third annual special - hosted by skating greats Dorothy Hamill and Scott Hamilton - will be taped at Bojangles' Coliseum on Friday night. The event celebrates cancer survivorship; Hamill and Hamilton (who also will perform) are both cancer survivors.

"I don't think there's any American that's not been touched, in some way, by cancer," says U.S. Olympian Johnny Weir, who will skate Friday along with fellow Olympians Kurt Browning, Sasha Cohen, Sinead and John Kerr, Nancy Kerrigan, Joannie Rochette, Elvis Stojko and Paul Wylie.

Wylie, a 1992 Olympic silver medalist who moved to Charlotte six years ago, was invited to perform at the 2010 "Kaleidoscope" taping in Dallas as a tribute to his parents, who are both cancer survivors. Wylie teaches at the Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail, and the show will mark the first time his Charlotte friends have seen him skate professionally.

"Everywhere I go - to church, to the store - I'm hearing, 'We bought tickets to the show,' " says Wylie, who took several years off from the sport (from 1998 to 2004) to get an MBA and work a desk job with Walt Disney in Los Angeles before moving to Charlotte. "It's fun to think about ... and it's terrifying. My friends from Charlotte have only seen me skate on YouTube."

Wylie will skate to a live song performed by singer-songwriter Andy Grammer.

"I'm thrilled that somebody is taking on this cause. Ten or 15 years ago, nobody wanted to talk about it," Wylie says. "Dorothy and Scott are both survivors. (People) need to know if this happens to us, we'll have the courage to meet it, too."

Adds Johnny Weir: "I have been lucky enough that there have been no cancer-related deaths in my family since my grandfather, when I was very young. My manager Tara Modlin's mother inspired me. She survived breast cancer. She lives in such a free-spirited and full-of-life sort of way. ... With such an attitude and warrior's take, anything is possible."

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