Five years ago, as a sophomore at Ocean City High School, Blizzard wanted to do something to help bring the community together for a common cause around the holidays. So the avid ice skater solicited help from members of her school's Interact Club to plan Skate for Wishes, a fundraiser to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey. The grass-roots effort - born from the good intentions of a single teenager - has since raised more than $10,000 for the charity, which grants the wishes of children living with life-threatening medical conditions.
"We've been really fortunate with the support received, especially the Flyers Skate Zone, which stepped in huge by donating the ice time," said Blizzard, adding that many community members and representatives from the Atlantic City Figure Skating Club also donate their time and raffle items for the event. "Every year it seems to get bigger. And what's exciting is we're finding that a lot of people are coming back year after year."
Music blared over the ice rink Saturday at the Skate Zone as dozens of people took part in the fourth annual event. Participation ranged from skating enthusiasts to beginners. Somers Point resident Eric Meyers was looking for something fun to do Saturday with his young sons, Noah, 8, and Jacob, 6. When he learned that he could take them skating and simultaneously help a good cause, the decision became much easier. "It's wonderful," Meyers, 39, said of the event as his boys gripped the boards around the ice for balance, grinning ear to ear. "I thank God every day for being able to have two healthy kids who are able to skate here today on their own. But kids who aren't as fortunate and who have serious illnesses need all the support we can give them."
Blizzard said she hoped this year's event would bring in at least $2,000 for Make-A-Wish, which was expected to have at least three of its "Wish Kids" in attendance Saturday. For good measure, Blizzard hosted a similar event in Florida this fall while away at school at the University of Central Florida.
"These kids and their families go through so much on a daily basis; they really need an opportunity to look forward to something else, something positive, once in awhile," she said. "That's what we're trying to help them be able to do." Blizzard's commitment has inspired others to get involved, such as former high school classmate Kasey Beatty.
Beatty did not take part in the first three Skate for Wishes. But when she learned how far Blizzard and the other volunteers have brought the event, Beatty signed on to help coordinate this year and hopes to one day hold a similar event near her school in New York. "I have never done anything like this before, but I love it so much," said Beatty, 20, of Ocean City. "I am still a little surprised at how much support this has, and how many people are involved. ... But if anyone could make something like this happen, it would be Katee."
By ROB SPAHR Staff Writer
Press of Atlantic City