Those Gliding Stars

The Gliding Stars ice show is an annual March event in Northwest Ohio that provides for people with physical, mental, emotional or multiple challenges the opportunity to skate with the help of specially designed equipment and a network of volunteers.

While the show itself is special, so are the 26 practices that lead up to it and the more than 100 volunteers it takes to run and manage this program. Parents of special needs kids know that it’s not easy to find good recreational opportunities for their children, not to mention one which improves balance, coordination and self-esteem. The ranks of Gliding Star parents and volunteers include several Marathon Findlay Office families.

“Gliding Stars is a program that gives individuals with special needs a chance to be a ‘STAR,’” says Greg Herold (Marathon Emergency Preparedness). “It is amazing to see the support from both Marathon and the Findlay community for this program.”

“Skating is good physical therapy that helps endurance and transfers into other benefits on land. Gliding Stars is really both recreation and therapy,” adds Brad Koller (Marathon Global Procurement), who was recognized in 2008 with Marathon’s Global Volunteer Award for the numerous hours he annually devotes to Gliding Stars

Brad says that Findlay Office families volunteer to help in a variety of ways.  He notes that Gliding Stars fabricates much of the specially designed equipment that goes along with this program, including supporting devices, sleds, harnesses and other apparatus. Each “Star” is given skates and the equipment it takes to make them successful on the ice. Each “Star” also has one to two on-ice volunteers and one off-ice volunteer.

It takes 114 people to support 38 ‘Stars,’" adds Brad. “We also pay $200 an hour for ice time, so we estimate the cost to support a single ‘Star’ at around $1,000. That’s why we appreciate the support from companies such as Marathon, as well as the financial support from the community in supporting our fund raisers and attending the ice show.”

The first show, eight years ago, drew a supportive crowd of 200. This year, the show at The Cube drew an attendance of 1,000.

Updated: Wednesday, June 29 2011