Two of Gabrielle Gorman’s pastimes are figure skating and helping others.
So when a family friend and leader of a local organization that supports breast cancer patients and their families died earlier this year, it didn’t take Gorman long to think of a way to honor her memory.
On Aug. 2, Gorman, a 17-year-old SouthPark resident, and some of her closest figure-skating friends performed in “Brighter Than The Sun,” an ice-skating show at Extreme Ice Center in Indian Trail.
Seventeen members of the Carolinas Figure Skating Club and a couple other high-level skaters performed for a crowd of about 150 spectators. Proceeds from ticket sales, a raffle, a bake sale, and additional donations raised about $1,800 – $300 more than Gorman’s goal – for the GoJenGo Foundation.
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GoJenGo was founded by SouthPark resident Jen Pagani, a wife and the mother of two young boys who was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in 2007. The foundation supports families through a variety of services, from stipends to help pay monthly bills to moving expenses.
Britt Yett, chairman of the foundation’s board of directors, says the organization raises about $125,000 a year, mostly through events such as the Komen Race for the Cure, 24 Hours of Booty and its own RunJenRun 5K, scheduled for March 7, 2015.
Though Pagani enjoyed her privacy, she kept a blog to document her treatment. She died in February, survived by her husband, Joe, and sons Rocco, 9, and Luca, 7, and many friends, including Jody Gorman, Gabrielle’s mother.
Gabrielle Gorman said she didn’t know Jen personally but understood her passion and spirit. In recent years, Gorman had participated in fundraising events to help the foundation’s cause.
“The more (Jen) opened up, the more she really felt the swell of support,” said Yett.
“Her reach extended to teenage girls. They put together this ice show to benefit GoJenGo. They did this to honor her memory,” Yett said.
A competitive figure skater who trains at Extreme Ice Center, Gorman proposed the idea of an ice show within weeks of Pagani’s death. In early April, she petitioned U.S. Figure Skating to sanction the event.
As president of the Carolinas Figure Skating Club’s junior board, Gorman recruited fellow skaters to help coordinate the event and perform. Other volunteers were called upon to help with marketing, selling tickets and manning the public address and sound systems.
“This is a big fundraiser,” said Kendal Buckalew, a 15-year-old skater from Stallings. “Being able to skate in something that will make a difference means a lot to me.”
Some of the skaters performed routines they will use in competitions later this year. Some choreographed new routines just for the show.
Gorman and fellow teenagers Kyra Hoctor and Mackenzie Garlic choreographed a routine to “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves for Grace Ashton, Lia Aviles, Madison Bellof and Grace Denton, a group of 8- to 10-year-olds.
Also performing at “Brighter Than The Sun” were 18-year-old Raleigh resident Jessica Hu, who used to train with former Olympian Paul Wylie at Extreme Ice Center; and XIC figure skating director and coach Danielle Logano, who performs in shows nationwide.
“I think everything went exactly perfect,” said Gorman after the show. “I’m so happy with how it turned out and the crowd we got. All the girls were so good, and I think everything went really well.”
Gorman and fellow skater Lizzie Chaconas also coordinate the Carolinas Figure Skating Club’s annual ice marathon to raise scholarship money for club members. Skaters raise money by soliciting donations for the number of laps they skate around the Extreme Ice Center rink. This year’s marathon will be Sept. 6.