ST. LOUIS – Here in St. Louis, there's a special organization that does some serious skating. The organization is called I-Skate, and although it has Olympic roots, the skating means so much more.
The skates are tied. The hair is styled. And the smiles begin-kinda of slyly to start
It's their chance to do something different that is difficult, but not anymore for 23-year-old Brendan Murray. When he started he could barely get on the ice and walk. Now, he tries to keep up with his favorite athletes.
“I watch a lot of Blues games. I watch how fast they go. I want to go as fast as they go.”
The program for kids with disabilities began in 1978. Carole Krummenacher, who was on the 1948 Olympic team, had an idea.
“My mom was at home on the ice with anyone,” said Carole’s daughter, Randy Costas, “but I think she was especially at home on the ice with special needs children because she felt there was a real niche for this, to give them a chance to do something to make them feel just as beautiful as she did.”
John Crowe, who's from a family of skating champions, has run the program for the last 40 years.
“I get to go to a party every Saturday and see all this interaction. All this striving for personal best,” he said.
Some move in wheelchairs, others move with walkers ever so slowly. But many, like Lilly Crockett, are on their own, free and fabulous.
“I just love figure skating I think it's fun.”
“This has given her so much confidence and so much joy,” said Lilly’s mother, Mary Suzanne Crockett. “And these young people who volunteer with her are some of her favorite people."
Those volunteers are MICDS students who sometimes literally grab their skaters by the hand. And affection is not held back, especially when it comes to Alexander Harris and Todd Gale.
“I love Todd, he makes me laugh and he warms my heart,” Harris said.
It's almost a celebration for the parents to see the kids perform, and for the kids, it’s like nothing else.
It's supposed to be just a skating session on a Saturday morning, but it's so much more.