“I’m the mother of the diva,” said Carla O’Donoghue moments after her husband, Tom, had demurred when asked about the fine points of figure skating at Sunday’s exhibition at the Buckskill Winter Club.
“She’s only had four lessons — she’s been wanting to do this for quite some time,” the mother of 12-year-old Maeve said. “Her teacher [Meghan Barnes] is terrific.”
And so it went for beguiled parents and other spectators at the once-postponed Katy’s Courage fund-raiser, during which 15 of Barnes’s students along with a talented group from the Rinx in Hauppauge skated to Broadway show tunes for the better part of an hour.
The next day, Cory Lillie, who oversees the tennis club’s winter skating programs, and who pretty much put the fund-raiser together, estimated that $5,000 to $7,000 would go to Jim and Brigid Stewart’s Katy’s Courage foundation, which funds scholarships at Pierson and East Hampton High Schools, as well as the weekly Katy’s Kids bereavement counseling group at the Children’s Museum of the East End, and helps to underwrite pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
“We have some other programs in mind, though they’ve not been thought through yet,” Brigid Stewart said, when asked what they were.
The Stewarts’ late daughter, Katy, who died of a rare form of liver cancer six years ago at the age of 12, was known not only for her empathy, but also for her courage. And, indeed, said Barnes, it took courage for her students — Mia Pardini, Adelina Breitenbach, Tahnie Sullivan, and the aforementioned Maeve O’Donoghue among them — to skate alone in front of everyone. Barnes’s students range in age from 6 to 14.
Several of Katy’s friends, Harriet de Groot, who is in her first year at the University of Pennsylvania, Sheila Mackey, and Harriet’s younger sister, Bea, were there, as were Katy’s grandparents Walt and Betty Stewart and Jim and Brigid Stewart’s sons, Robert, 12, and Christopher, 2, who, after watching the pink balloon — pink had been Katy’s favorite color — that had been tied to his jacket float up toward the moon, got another one tied on by his father.
The de Groots, Doug and Kathryn, Buckskill’s owners, have been playing host to Katy’s Courage fund-raisers on their outdoor rink every winter since her death. Tom O’Donoghue, likewise, whose idea it was to hold the first Katy’s Courage 5K in Sag Harbor in the spring of 2011, has been a constant backer as well. This year’s Katy’s Courage 5K will be on April 22.
The Buckskill Winter Club’s tents are to fold, as it were, this Sunday. A charity hockey game, known as “Bad Hockey for a Good Cause,” is to be played there Saturday, from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m.
“It will take about a month before we make the switch over to tennis,” said Lillie, whose high-school-age hockey team, the Sharks, is 2-1 now, having defeated Eastport-South Manor in a game here on Feb. 28. Led by the Nicholsons, Robby and Brett, and by Cooke Evans, a talented 11-year-old from Sag Harbor, Lillie’s team went up 5-0 in the first period and pretty much coasted after that.
The high school team, which Buckskill’s junior program, coached by Tim Luzadre and Bruce MacIsaac, feeds into, is to finish the season with a rematch at Dix Hills on March 18. Dix Hills defeated the Sharks 8-4 here in early February, but Lillie was missing some key players that day.
Sunday’s event was capped by an evening hockey game in which kids and adults participated. Lillie’s White team won, “by one or two goals,” over a Pink team whose goalie was Khloe Goncalves, a national-champion roller hockey net tender. Matt Rice was the White team’s goalie. He and his brother, Pat, have made the transition from roller hockey.
It is not an easy thing to do, Lillie said. “The biggest difference is the skating . . . and in serious ice hockey games, though not in ours, there’s hitting, which takes some getting used to. There’s none of that in roller.”
Of Evans, he said, “He’s here at 7 in the morning, training with his dad [Ian]. He’s a great skater, very talented — he just needs to get more game experience. He can go as far as he wants to in the sport, particularly if he grows up to be as tall as his dad, who’s 6-4.”
The Nicholsons too had talent and potential, said Lillie, “but they need to break their roller habits. . . . I think part of it, especially in Robby’s case, is that the competition isn’t always up to his level.”
As for the season just about past, Lillie said, “It was pretty good, but the bad weather always seemed to come on the wrong days — a snowstorm on a Friday night, for example, or rain, as was the case on Feb. 12, when we originally planned to hold this fund-raiser.”