18th Annual "An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends"

By Terri Milner Tarquini

December 1, 2017
   In The Loop Extended Articles

If ever there was a skater who has lived the sport credo of “get back up,” it is Scott Hamilton.

In the last two decades, the four-time world and national champion and 1984 Olympic gold medalist was diagnosed with testicular cancer and three subsequent brain tumors, but in March 2017 he announced the most recent tumor had shrunk, calling himself “the recipient of a spectacular miracle.”

Using what he excels at, Hamilton is striving to bring similar blessings to others.

The 18th annual “An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends” ice show and gala, which took place November 4 in Cleveland, again raised nearly $1 million for cancer research, patient education and survivorship programs at Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute.

“When we first got the call five years ago to skate in the show, we were floored,” said Brent Bommentre, two-time national ice dance bronze medalist with partner Kim Navarro. “We are so honored to perform, but it’s so much bigger than that. What is raised in one night helps provide funding for the entire next year of cancer research, education, and support. To be a part of that in some small way is impactful.”

Skaters for the evening were Olympic, world and national champions and medalists Meryl Davis, Katia Gordeeva, Elvis Stojko, Jeremy Abbot, Jeffrey Buttle, Kimmie Meissner, Alissa Czisny, Ryan Bradley, Steve Cousins, Sinead Kerr-Marshall and John Kerr, Kiira Korpi, and Navarro and Bommentre.

With choreography by Buttle, the soundtrack for the show was provided by Grammy-award winning musician, singer and songwriter Peter Cetera. A former member of the legendary rock group Chicago with hits such as “If You Leave Me Now” and “You’re the Inspiration,” Cetera went solo in 1986, recording the Academy Award-nominated song, “The Glory of Love,” “The Next Time I Fall,” “Feels Like Heaven” and “After All.”

“Every year it gets better,” Bommentre said. “Peter Cetera was fantastic and Jeff (Buttle) is so organized that it was amazingly easy. All of the skaters come in prepared and we get there ready to work. It is always such a fun experience.”

Twenty years ago, Hamilton said three angels had helped him through his cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery: the Cleveland Clinic, his oncology nurse, and his family and friends. But he identified a missing piece of the coping puzzle – and the 4th Angel Patient and Caregiver Mentoring Program was born.

“The fourth angel is someone to speak to who has been there and can listen and give insight into what to expect,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Liz Lindecke, who is also show manager of the ice show and gala. “It was Scott’s brainchild and we’ve developed it here.”

With over 1,000 mentors, in November 2016, and as a direct result of funds raised through the ice show and gala, the 4th Angel Mentoring Program added pediatric caregivers to their support list.

“We match mentors with patients and caregivers,” Lindecke said. “The relationship is based on email and phone so matches don’t have to be local. Having that support is so important and being able to learn from someone else’s journey is so comforting. The funds have helped with expanding the program and getting more people the help they need.”

Another beneficiary is the patient education website, Chemocare.com, which breaks down cancer information on an 8th grade level so it is easily understandable. The site now is mobile-friendly, thanks to Hamilton’s efforts.

“What makes this event so unique is that it supports Cleveland Clinic’s mission to provide information easier to those who need it,” Bommentre said. “We actually know people who have used the site and learned from it. You know where the money is going and it’s making a real, concrete difference in cancer education.”

Research is the third area where Hamilton strives to help.

“Scott’s fundraising has helped with seed money to get trials going that can show evidence when applying for larger grants,” Lindecke said. “He has provided that for so many cancer research programs.”

In Hamilton’s 18 years of “An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends,” over $18 million has been raised - and it has all gone directly toward helping others on their cancer journey.

“To be able to use our skating to help support areas that are important to Scott – where he’s putting in his time and efforts - it’s such a privilege,” Bommentre said. “Scott Hamilton is more than just a household name; he is an icon. Twenty years ago, I never would have believed that I’d be here doing this. We are so incredibly honored to be able to use our talents to help Scott Hamilton make the world a better place.”

Photo credit - Don Gerda/Tom Merce Cleveland Clinic