The Chris Mabee fundraiser


by Megi
Photos © Lisa Prenty


If any of you think that the Canadian figure skating season wraps up with the World Championships, you are wrong. Numerous tours, exhibitions, carnivals, and fundraisers take place in many Canadian communities.


On, April 30, 2005, I had the pleasure of attending the Chris Mabee & Friends: “A Tribute to Youth and Their Dreams” fundraiser organized by the “Youth and Dreams” group that was originally called “Christopher's Fundraisers”. They have been going since 1998 when the village of Springford, where Chris's family was originally from, wanted to raise money to help with Christopher's training costs and assist him in reaching his goal of competing at the Olympics. They hold a major fundraiser annually and generally have some kind of draw in addition to this.

The group and its efforts grew to become the wonderful support system to Chris that it is today. The group consists of about 8 or 9 members, including the President, Tammy Gould. - ”My involvement started when I was asked to write a biography on Chris to go with a video to present to the Businessman's luncheon in Tillsonburg. – says Tammy - Chris was 11. I didn't know him then. Next thing you know, I'm Chairperson of the Committee! I am very passionate about this cause I believe in Chris and his abilities, and I support him and his family 100%. They are all very treasured friends of mine now. This year we went all out and instead of just the dance and silent auction, we held the ice show with Chris and his friends giving a top notch performances for our town.“


The entire event was a blast. But since Tammy mentioned the performances, let me start with the show, which was the first of the scheduled attractions of the evening.

It started with the Canadian anthem, sang beautifully by Christa, followed by the opening number that featured the Tillsonburg skaters: Caitlin Parker, Keegan Kesteloot, Taylor Brocanier, Kaitlyn Gooding, Sylvia Hoffman, Nicole Lama, Kayleigh Hayward, Rochelle Hayward & Shelby Hayward. It was great to see everybody so thrilled to skate in front of such a large crowd of approximately 350 people.

Following was Lesley Hawker (5th in the Canadian Nationals last season) who skated to a Shania Twain country themed song and was wearing a very suitable cowboy hat which was probably borrowed from one of the opening number skaters ;) She opened with a single Axel and was right on with all other jumps that night, including two Axels, and quite a few triples (even a Lutz!). It was nice to see her doing such a good job in the middle of the off-season!

Next to skate were Tillsonburg’s own Kathryn Bauer and Stefan Schneider who entertained us with their interpretation of the “Austin Powers” theme. I must say that not only did they skate very well but they also showed great showmanship which is unusual for such young dancers.

Next up were Meagan Duhamel and Ryan Arnold – a senior pairs team that made it big at last year’s Nationals, landing the first ever side-by-side triple Lutzes in competition, and finishing as high as 4th in the short program. In Tillsonburg they performed a new exhibition program to “Sex Bomb”. It was fun to watch. Also, they performed some nice pairs' moves, including a death spiral and a triple throw jump. Well done!

Entered the first of the international skaters invited to the show – Tugba Karademir of Turkey. She skated her competitive SP from last season and did a great job landing 3 Toe-loop, 3 Salchow, 2 Axel, and showing great flexibility on spirals and spins, especially the lovely camel spin from which she went to a catch-foot spin. She can keep those positions long and the overall effect was very impressive.

After Tugba we got to see Chris himself performing for the first time that evening. He skated to “West Side Story”. Great piece of music and great skating, no wonder the local community is so proud of him.

Brooklyn Vienneau and Jonathan Cluett (8th in Novice ice dance last season) together with Kathryn Bauer and Stefan Schneider performed a mini group number. The music was “Yeah!” by Usher. I was really impressed by those young people, especially by Jonathan Cluett who interpreted the piece very well.

The Ice Breakers Synchro Team closed the first act of the gala.

Following was the second of the internationals skaters - Nobunari Oda of Japan, who is the current Junior men’s world champion. He did his playful “Mario Bros” short program and had the crowd clapping along with the music and genuinely laughing at the cute and so suitable choreography.

Lesley Hawker skated next. She went out and nailed several triple jumps in her program. Great stuff!

The final skater of the evening was, of course, Chris Mabee who appeared wearing clown make up and skated to “Mr. Cellophane” from the “Chicago” soundtrack. This program was lots of fun and I felt it suited Chris’ style very well. He received a well deserved standing ovation from the crowd.

The closing number featured all the skaters who skated in the gala, as well as a special young lady, Madison Wilson-Walker, who celebrated her 8th birthday that day. Madison is enrolled in the Tillsonburg's CanSkate program, and she skates with two prosthetic legs and truly exemplifies what we believe is "The Heart of Skating". She has a true passion for the sport and won't allow ANY challenges to get in the way of her life.
She was accompanied to the ice by Robbie Ross and Kevin Dawe.
This concluded the first part of the event.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances Terra Findlay and John Mattattal (7th in senior pairs in Canada) did not participate in the show.


Next we headed to the designated room for the dinner. Before I start raving about the food, I need to point out that I was more than impressed by all the photos and press clips on Chris, collected from the newspapers since what must have been his first steps on the ice. That once again showed how proud the local community is of their talented skater.


Tugba & Chris
Ryan & Lesley

And now about the dinner itself… To make a long story short: it was wonderful! This part of the event had an overwhelming turn out (180 guests) and the food was delicious... ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, dressings, gravy, cranberries and veggies as well as Blackforest cake and pie for dessert. Do I really need to say more? ;)
In addition to the delicious food that was served, we had the pleasure of listening to live music by a mini-orchestra which played while we ate.



After the meal we listened to some speeches, first from the Mayor of Tillsonburg, Tammy Gould from the “Youth and Dreams” committee, Chris’ father, Ryan Arnold who greeted the guests on behalf of the skaters, and finally to Chris himself. After this part, the live auctions stared. About 300 people showed up for this part of the event. There were some outstanding out for grabs and some of them were bought for quite impressive amounts of money. The auction was professionally run by Chris’ brother – David Mabee, and by one of the sponsors – Robbie Ross. The dance was a blast too, and everyone seemed to be having so much fun. I was told that the event will be held in the same form next year, so if you missed it this time that should be good news for you! :)


This event wouldn’t be so successful without all the wonderful sponsors. Super 8 provided lodging,Vasco Serrador who owns The Manse in Tillsonburg, opened his restaurant on Sunday for a brunch for the skaters, Verhoeves Funeral Home
paid for the ice time, Marcel and Chrissy Rosehart proided the incredible meal, The Tillsonburg Skating Club helped out with the show and practice, Heather Mabee provided the silent auction items. Some of the othet major sponsors were: Zellers Canada Inc, Salcin Haulage, E&E McLaughlin, Tillsonburg Community Centre , Easy 101 Radio Station, Tillsonburg news.Party Plus and More, and Tillsnburg Commercial printers.

Also, organizers thank Lisa Prenty for looking after Chris' website ( and to Teri Rance for Mabees Maniacs mailing list ( Very Special thanks to Robbie Ross and the Robbie Ross Foundation!

Standing from the left: Jonathan Cluett, Stefan Schneider, Chris Mabee, Ryan Arnold, Nobunari Oda;
Sitting from the left: Meagan Duhamel, Kathryn Bauer, Tugba Karademir, Brooklyn Vienneau, Lesley Hawker.

Check out Chris' site for more showphotos and his journal!

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