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Gliding Stars founder Elizabeth O'Donnell with David. (Submitted photo)
Gliding Stars founder Elizabeth O'Donnell with David. (Submitted photo)

Gliding Stars to showcase talents of local skaters

Fri, Mar 24th 2023 09:40 am

Two Niagara County residents to join hundreds on the ice

By Terry Duffy


The Gliding Stars of Western New York invites residents to experience its annual ice show, “Skating Across Land and Sea!” The event will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at the Northtown Center at Amherst, 1615 Manor Drive in Williamsville.

Gliding Stars of WNY offers an adaptive ice skating program that provides those with disabilities the opportunity to increase their individual potential and achievements. Skaters with disabilities require special attention on the ice, but they can attain the basics of ice-skating skills in a fun and inclusive environment. On-ice volunteers assist these skaters in gaining these new skills and then measure what degree to which they attained the skill.

Fun for the whole family, skaters joined by volunteers, will display their skills on the ice in various routines recognizing the skater’s individual abilities and talents.

“Our stars have an opportunity to gain overall better health, including increased muscle strength, improved fine and gross motor skills, improved balance and experience success, increased confidence and self-esteem,” Gliding Stars stated in a release.

Two shining Niagara County stars of the ice include David from Niagara Falls – who will team up on Saturday for a finale performance with Gliding Stars founder Elizabeth O’Donnell; and the mother-son duo of Nicholas and Renee Moshier from Lockport. The two will join more than 100 skaters and 150 volunteers who have been skating at rinks in Hamburg and Niagara Falls since October.

“Our annual ice show is the culmination of weeks of skilled instruction and practice, and our stars are assigned a role to play at the end-of-season show,” a press release noted. “There is no greater sense of accomplishment than the cheers of the audience and heightened electricity of a live production.”

For the skaters – and their families – this happening reflects milestones in the skaters’ goals as children to overcome their disabilities to reach their own self-fulfillment and become contributing members in the community.

David, who is challenged with autism and has been with Gilding Stars for 27 years, sees this as a personal satisfaction, said his dad, Carmen Bandenelli: “He is one of the happiest faces you will see out on the ice. He enjoys playing the piano, as well as playing many sports such as baseball, basketball, floor hockey and bowling.”

David credits his years of friendship and working with Gliding Stars founder O’Donnell, who will be doing her final performance on the ice this weekend.

“This year, I want to skate with Elizabeth as this is her last show,” he said. “Gliding Stars has taught me that, if I practice, I can learn new skating moves!”

O’Donnell called Saturday’s pairing with David a perfect end to her 48 years of adaptive skating and helping others.

“I asked David if he wanted to skate a pair with me, and he said with his big smile ‘Yes, coach O’Donnell!’

“I am both excited and a bit sad to be retiring from my life’s work for the past 48 years. It has been a wonderful journey for so many skaters and their families, and my life has been deeply touched and enriched by every one of the thousands over the past four plus decades.”

The mother-son duo of Rene and Nicholas Moshier. (Submitted photo)


The mother-son teamwork of Nicholas and Rene Moshier also will be on display.

“This mother-son duo is unstoppable!” the press release noted. “Nicholas was born as a 27-week preemie weighing only 2 pounds, 12 ounces, and was diagnosed with hemiplegia and cerebral palsy. In his life, he has beaten the odds and faced many challenges all while his mom, Renee, has cheered him on.”

His mom proudly notes that, from 2010 to present day, Nicholas has learned to ride a two-wheeled bike, obtain his driver’s license and was accepted in the Niagara County Community College culinary arts program.

“Since then, he has become a diner cook at Mount View Assisted Living and started skating with Gliding Stars five years ago,” she said. “He gives credit to his friends, Cindy and Brittany, for encouraging him to start skating. Nick’s favorite part of Gliding Stars is practicing routines for the show and seeing his friends.”

Nicholas said Gliding Stars has taught him “to be confident and know that I can do anything, and to point my toes forward to feel the glide!”

Likewise, his mother praises the work of O’Donnell and numerous other volunteers of Gliding Stars in helping guide and shape their lives.

“Elizabeth has made Gliding Stars amazing!” Renee said. “Gliding Stars has taught me there are many different ways to reach a goal.”

Tickets for this special Saturday performance are still available. The cost is $10 presale (call 716-608-8345 to reserve), or $12 at the door. There is no admission charge for children ages 3 and under.

For more information, visit www.glidingstars.org.

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