Olympic figure skating medalist Nancy Kerrigan is coming to Venice next month to help raise money for Our Mother’s House for single moms and their children.
She will be the featured speaker at a luncheon at Plantation Golf & Country Club.
Kerrigan won bronze medals at the 1991 World Championships and the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and silver medals at the 1992 World Championships and the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
The Stoneham, Massachusetts, native has a Venice connection via residents Chip Ludlow and his late wife, Carole, both national figure skating judges. Chip is a longtime member of the Skating Club of Boston.
“Carole was the U.S. team leader for the World Championships in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1990,” Chip said. “I was the team leader in Munich, Germany, in 1991 and we were team leaders for the Olympics in Albertville, France the next year (1992).
“Only two people could be with Kerrigan (in the post-performance space known as the ‘kiss and cry’ area) to hear the judges’ marks at the women’s event in Albertville. We were with her until she went on the ice to skate. Her coaches, Mary and Evy Scotvold, were at rinkside and Carole and I watched on a 12-inch television deep in the arena.”
Kerrigan was the only U.S. figure skating medalist in 1994. Arch-rival Tanya Harding was eighth.
The two had contended for the national championship and for the two spots on the women’s Olympic team in Detroit earlier that year.
As Kerrigan left the ice from a practice session at Cobo Arena, however, she was struck in the knee by a man with a police baton. She was forced to drop out of the competition, which ended with Harding in first and Michelle Kwan in second.
But at the urging of the other contestants, Kerrigan was given the second spot and Kwan was made an alternate in case Harding was taken off the team for any involvement in the attack.
She denied responsibility but the attack turned out to have been planned by her ex-husband and her former bodyguard. She later pleaded guilty to obstructing the prosecution and was banned from skating for life.
Kerrigan went on to marry her agent, Jerry Soloman; toured in skating shows such as Champions on Ice; and in 2017 was a contestant in season 24 of “Dancing With the Stars.”
As an actress, Kerrigan appeared in three films: “Blades of Glory” in 2007, as a skating official; “Fairy Tales on Ice: Alice Through the Looking Glass” in 1996, as the White Queen; and “Greatest Hits on Ice” in 1994.
The couple has three children: Matthew, born in 1997; Brian, born in 2005, and Nicole, born in 2008.
Soloman is the CEO of Stargames LLC, his own sports management, marketing and entertainment company.
In 2003, Kerrigan became a national spokeswoman for Fight for Sight. When she competed, her visually impaired mother was only able to see her daughter skate by sitting very close to a television monitor.
She does isolated appearances rather than any ongoing tours because “I’m a mom and have three kids.”
Her visit to Our Mother’s House came about because another local connection — her friendship with tennis promoter Karen Scott Happer, of Champagne Tennis, and Marshall Happer, former director of the U.S. Tennis Association, who live in Venice. Karen represents tennis legend Jimmy Connors
“She has a heart as beautiful as she is,” Karen Happer said about her friend.
Our Mother’s House, 207 North Harbor Drive, Venice, was founded in 1987 with a mission to “offer single mothers and their children a safe and secure environment in which to achieve increased self-sufficiency through education, vocational training and personal growth,” according to its website.
It has grown with the addition of seven apartments in 2010 and five more in 2018, for a total of 22 apartments in the four-building compound that is part of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice.
“If someone is here, it is because they had no place else to go,” Program Director Joyce Scott said. “The moms are expected to work or go to school if that is needed. While here they take life skills classes.
“They have to be at least 18 but we have had mothers into their 40s. They can have two children as long as they are under 3.”
Caring for all these residents is expensive.
“It costs $550,000 a year to maintain Our Mother’s House,” Scott said. “Without the support of the community, we could not make it.
“Karen approached us about this event. Nancy is donating her time. Every cent raised will go to Our Mother’s House.”
In addition to Kerrigan’s talk, local artist LaShawn Krom will create a piece of art.
“This is a call to the heart,” Scott said.
The luncheon is on Wednesday, Nov. 18, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
Tickets are $60 per person including lunch, a glass of wine or a mimosa and dessert.
Seating is limited due to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus guidelines. Masks are required except while actually eating.
To attend, call 941-485-6264 to see if tickets are available, or go to: CatholicCharitiesDOV.org/event-on. Buy your tickets there or send a check to Our Mother’s House, P.O. Box 2240, Venice FL 34284.