Club Spotlight


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Celebration of Sisters: Boston Skater Honors Sisters' Memories with a Special Ice Show
by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz, special to U.S. Figure Skating

November is an especially poignant month for adult skater Judy Lipson. Lipson, of Boston, Mass. lost her sister Jane in a tragic automobile accident on Nov. 7, 1981, just a day after her sister’s birthday. In 1990, Lipson lost her older sister Margie, after years of battling an eating disorder. Margie’s birthday was Nov. 8.

Lipson, decided the best way to commemorate her sisters’ memories would be through the sport they all loved and participated in: figure skating. This began the special ice show “Celebration of Sisters”. The show, held on Nov. 9 at the Babson Skating Center in Wellesley, Mass., not only celebrated Margie and Jane’s lives, but also contributed to a worthy cause, The John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“I wanted to honor my sisters in a meaningful and respectful way with a unique fundraiser celebrating their lives and memories,” Lipson said. “Skating proved to be a commonality for all of us; as children we all took recreational skating lessons and as an adult I started skating again. When I skate I feel free and pure joy. As I skate and feel my sisters’ presence, the joy is reflected on my face and in my movements across the ice.”

A friend suggested the fundraiser to Lipson in 2011, and the show has been growing annually ever since. This year’s event was the most spectacular by far, with performances by Act I Theater on Ice, Team Excel Intermediate Synchro Team, U.S. Championship pairs competitors Sydney Cooke and Nathan Dennler, new pairs teams Cate Fleming and Jedidah Isbell and Allison Timlen and Sean Marshinski, Choreographer Kate McSwain and singles skater Nicole Lee. Lipson, who is a Learn to Skate program instructor at the Babson Skating Center and Bay State Skating School, also, for the first time, performed a solo dedicated to her sisters during this year’s show.

“As the date for the event neared, I found myself crying as I practiced on the ice. This year proved to be particularly emotional for me,” Lipson said. “My beloved sisters would have celebrated milestone birthdays this year, Jane, 55, and Margie, 60. I was overwhelmed with many emotions: the joy of skating, having the courage and confidence to skate solo for the first time, embracing skating for my sisters, missing them so very much, yet holding them in my heart where they truly belong.”

Next year's show will be the fifth and the date will be the same as Margie’s birthday.

“We want to celebrate with a splash,” Lipson said. “I would love to invite the incredibly talented skaters and coaches who skated in earlier Celebration of Sisters to join us. We hope to broaden the audience to include skaters, siblings who have lost siblings and others who have a connection to my beloved sisters, and to increase the funds that we raise.”

The show provides the perfect opportunity to spend a Sunday afternoon watching beautiful skating performances while benefitting a wonderful cause.

“Though Margie and Jane are no longer with us, we will work together to establish a living memory that will dignify traditions of caring and advocacy that we all share. I believe we have an obligation that systems of healthcare achieve the greatest good possible. My hope is to create a primary care center that will nurture and expand patient centered medical practice. We will use the gentle spirit that Margie and Jane left us as a motivating force in our work ahead,” said John Goodson, M.D., a primary care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and Chair of the Stoeckle Center Advisory Board.

At the end of each show Lipson feels everyone understands just a little more the special bond these sisters shared. Lipson is also grateful for all who helped her prepare for this special day, especially her coach Linda Blount of the Skating Club of Boston.

“The audience feels the warmth, and there is a heartfelt feeling of joy, healing, giving back and most importantly honoring the lives and memories of two beautiful sisters who unfortunately lost their lives too soon,” Lipson said.

More information on “Celebration of Sisters” is available on www.give.massgeneral.org/celebration-of-sisters. The 2015 show will be held on November 8.

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