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An Evening With Champions

22nd Annual Show to Benefit Jimmy Fund for Cancer Research

By Peter I. Rosenthal

On Friday, November 1, at 8 p.m., the 22nd annual Evening with Champions will kick off at Bright Arena. The skating exhibition, hosted by 1988 Olympic Gold Medalist Brian Boitano and 1991 National Bronze Medalist and Harvard graduate Paul Wylie '91, will continue on Saturday at 8 p.m. and end on Sunday with a 1 p.m. show. Tickets are on sale at Eliot House (493-8172) for $16 (adults) and $8 (senior citizens, children, undergraduate students).

All proceeds benefit the Jimmy Fund's research of childhood cancers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The Jimmy Fund was founded in 1947 with the support of the Variety Club of New England and the Boston Braves baseball team.

After hearing of the breakthroughs achieved by Dr. Sidney Farber in the area of children's cancer, the Variety Club arranged a Ralph Edwards radio broadcast from the bedside of a young leukemia patient named Jimmy. Present at Jimmy's bedside were his idols, the members of the Boston Braves.

Listeners around the country sent in contributions, and, although Jimmy died, the Jimmy Fund has lived on to help combat children's cancer.

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute boasts encouraging recovery rates for children with various forms of cancer. Seventy percent of all children with leukemia recover, and advances by Dr. Farber and the institute have paved the way for research in adult cancer, as well.

Established in 1970 by skater John Misha Petkevich, then a junior at Harvard, An Evening with Champions, one of the largest annual contributors to the Jimmy Fund, has raised cumulatively over 1.25 million dollars. For the past two years, the show has raised as much as $150,000.

Petkevich developed the idea for the skating exhibition after visiting Children's Memorial Hospital in Brookline for a routine check on his knees. After meeting several children at the hospital who were being treated for leukemia, he decided to help. Petkevich and other Eliot House residents managed to bring together some of the top nationally ranked skaters for the first show.

Members of this year's all-student organizing committee have made weekly visits to the Dana-Farber Institute to meet the children and see what all their work really goes toward.

Publicity Co-Chair Colleen Kotyk, who has been involved with An Evening with Champions for two years, commented on her experience with the show.

"Watching the expressions on the kids' faces is something really special," Kotyk said. "The kids know they're famous skaters and they know they're helping them. I guess that's why I do it."

The list of past performers, which includes such names as Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, Dorothy Hamill, Scott Hamilton and Robin Cousins, is certainly impressive, and the organizers of this year's show have compiled an equally impressive skating slate.

Wylie will both host and skate in the show, and he will be joined by such names as the 1964 and '68 Olympic champion skating pair of Ludmila and Oleg Protopopov and 1991 National and World Bronze Medalist Nancy Kerrigan.

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