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...and how I got into skating!

My name is John.

I am originally from New York (Long Island),


but I now live in California. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, but it hasn't stopped me from obtaining an AAS degree with Highest Distinction in Communications & Media Arts from Suffolk County Community College in Selden, NY; a BA in Communications with Honors (public relations emphasis) from California State University, Fullerton; (where I was a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society) and an MA in English (media writing emphasis) from Chapman University in Orange, CA.

...And to give credit where credit is due before all that I graduated from Smithtown High School (West) in Smithtown, NY.

HOW I GOT INTO SKATING



During the 1970's, my family and I watched ABC's Wide World of Sports every weekend. One day, in 1974, the US Championships were on, that afternoon Dorothy Hamill skated right into my heart. I was hooked! (Ms. Hamill has since "apologized" for getting me into this!) I loved her and her sport...following her through her Olympic and World victories... and into the Ice Capades. Home from school due to a broken leg and subsequent surgery. I read everything I could about skating, and began to follow skaters such as Linda Fratianne, Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner more closely.

In 1981, the World Championships were held in Hartford, CT, USA about three hours (by car) from my home on Long Island. My mother said we could make a "one time only" trip. Through my dear friend, the late Barbara Cassella, I was able to meet the lovely and gracious Ms. Hamill. I also met such skaters as JoJo Starbuck and Judy Blumberg. It was the trip of a lifetime...or so I thought!

Somehow, my Dad decided I had to do this again the next year...in Copenhagen, Denmark? it was there that I made my first true skating buddies: Elaine Zayak, Rosalynn Sumners, Kitty & Peter Carruthers...They are the reason I love skating...For me, they were the beginning but not the end.

I continue to respect skating as a sport, and spend way too much money on travel expenses, because people such as:
Kurt Browning, Susie Wynne, Debi Thomas, Nicole Bobek, Michelle Kwan, Dick Button, Jirina Ribbens, Peter Burrows, Mary-Lynn Geldermann, John Nicks, Ron Ludington, Peggy Fleming, Jill Watson, Jill Trenary, Peter Oppegard, Tonia Kwiatkowski, Nancy Kerrigan, Scott Hamilton, Kyoko Ina, Jason Dungjen,Yuka Sato, Kristi Yamaguchi, Jenni Meno, Todd Sand, Christopher Bowman, Carolyn Kruse, Carol Heiss-Jenkins, Lea-Ann Miller, Bill Fauver, Victor Kraatz, Brian Orser ...and many more to numerous to list...have not only represented their sport with honor on the ice...but continue to contribute to the quality of my life off the ice. I will be forever grateful for all they have done for me.


KURT & ME



To me, the most important title Kurt holds is "My Buddy." We met in 1988 at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

It was outside the arena. Mom was busy trying to fit my wheelchair into the trunk of the small (understatement) Soviet-made automobile being used to transport us from the hotel to the arena and back. I saw someone running out of the back of the building. It turned out to be Kurt! Because there was no such thing as accessible seating, my wheelchair was put on a platform at rinkside near where Kurt had accomplished his famous "Quad". That was a good thing. He wasn't very famous in those days --especially to an American, like me! I might not have recognized him.

He rapped on the car window, but they weren't electric... and I didn't have the strength to roll them down. So mom had to stop what she was doing to help me. I congratulated him on the Quad. Kurt simply said: "I just wanted to tell you... you are the best fan!" With that, he was gone.

Years later I found out others had told him about me. I had been attending comptitions since 1981, and had been fortunate enough to be befriended by many skaters.



Since then, Kurt & I have formed an enduring friendship, which has truly changed my life. I have been extremely blessed to experience the incredibly warm and caring personal side of this extraordinary man.








This site is constantly under construction, so please visit again soon!



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COPYRIGHT 2001 BY JOHN BAKER