Taking to the ice: Area teens to host ice-skating marathon to benefit children

Gabrielle Gorman, far left, and Lizzie Chaconas, far right, stand with figure skating Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie and his family at the Ice Marathon 2012. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Gorman

Gabrielle Gorman, far left, and Lizzie Chaconas, far right, stand with figure skating Olympic silver medalist Paul Wylie and his family at the Ice Marathon 2012. Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Gorman

INDIAN TRAIL – Skaters of all levels and ages will soon have the opportunity to raise money so underprivileged children can ice skate.

Gabrielle Gorman, a senior at Grace Academy, and Kendall Buckalew a sophomore who is homeschooled, will host the 3rd Annual Ice Marathon at the Extreme Ice Center, 4705 Indian Trail-Fairview Road, on Sept. 6, a Saturday, at 5:30 p.m. to benefit a Learn-to-Skate scholarship fund for children needing financial support.

“We loved skating so much and we wanted to give other kids the opportunity to see how great it is, even if they couldn’t afford it,” Gabrielle said.

Gabrielle and Lizzie Chaconas, a freshman at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, started the event in 2012 after reading an article in Skating Magazine about a girl who held a skating marathon to benefit people in Haiti. Both girls are instructors at the ice center and realized the cost of group lessons can be expensive, so they decided to start a fundraiser to help children in need take ice skating lessons after Jenny Wesley Gwyn, the skating school director at the Extreme Ice Center, told the girls some parents wanted to put their children in ice skating lessons, but couldn’t afford it.

“There is so much need in the local community, that’s why we wanted to start there,” Gabrielle said.

The girls have skated for numerous years and feel they have benefited from doing so. They hope the same becomes true for other local children.

“Skating has been an amazing part of my life. For me, it has given me discipline, drive and focus,” Chaconas said. “Most skaters have a determined mindset. I thought it would be nice to be able to spread that skillset to other kids.”

Skaters of all levels and ages are welcome to skate around the rink at their own pace up to 253 laps, a marathon. 

Skaters pay an initial entry fee, $15 before Sept. 1 or $20 until Sept. 6, but are welcome to raise more money on their own. The fundraising goal for this year is $2,500, which Gabrielle hopes to exceed. 

The group has consistently raised about $500 more than their goal each year, so they hope to keep up that pace.

The Ice Marathon has helped three area children since its inception, but the organization does not have many scholarship applicants, so funds from last year’s marathon are still available. Gywn makes the final decision on the recipient but Gabrielle said they’re looking for more applicants. The scholarship pays for individual sessions, which cost $120. 

Gabrielle can see the difference she’s making in the community even with the number of children she’s helped. 

“When we see kids that we’ve helped through the scholarships, it’s amazing to see the joy they get,” Gabrielle said. “It’s amazing to see how this helps kids in the community.”

Gabrielle sees the excitement skating brings to her students and hopes to pass that passion along to fellow skater Kendall when Gabrielle goes to college.

 “I’m really exited to take it over. Gabrielle has done a good job with it. I’m excited to take this opportunity to make some new changes, but I just want to do as well as Gabrielle did,” she said. “Being able to combine skating and being able to help other people is why I love the sport.”

Anyone who would like more information about the Ice Marathon or would like to apply for a scholarship can contact Gabrielle at 704-930-8540 or Gabrielleg310@aol.com.

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Courtney Schultz

About Courtney Schultz

Courtney Schultz is a recent college graduate from Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C. She has both a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Political Science. At Campbell, she was the editor-in-chief of the university’s student newspaper for nearly three years and worked for the Siskey YMCA in their membership services and marketing department. She mostly covers education news for the Matthews, Mint-Hill, and greater Charlotte areas.

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