Since 2013, the Prudential Skating Fund has brought the joy of ice skating to underserved communities
By Adam Hunter
Emma Mays wasn’t one of America’s top skaters who competed at the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but the Tennessee 10-year-old was top of mind for Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton as he stood rink-side to receive the $10,000 Enrichment Award from the Prudential Skating Fund. The award will support Scott’s All Stars, a program Hamilton developed for skaters like Emma with intellectual disabilities, who may not win medals but can melt hearts.
The program, based at Ford Ice Center in Antioch, Tennessee, is offered by the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy, a skating school founded in 2014 by Hamilton in partnership with the NHL’s Nashville Predators.
“We are incredibly grateful for the funds given to us by Prudential through the Enrichment Award,” said Hamilton. “The Scott Hamilton Skating Academy’s identity is based on creating opportunities for everyone to enjoy the pure joy skating provides.”
That joy was on display in a video aired by NBC featuring Emma and her fellow participants.
“Emma has absolutely loved skating,” said Emma’s mother, Amy Mays. “I wasn’t sure in the beginning if she would like it … but her confidence has been amazing. Just to see her be so happy with herself just made my heart so happy.”
The Enrichment Award is one of two annual awards sponsored by Prudential for U.S. Figure Skating–affiliated skating clubs. The Columbine Figure Skating Club will receive this year’s $15,000 Building Block Award to build an inclusive skating program for the deaf and hearing-impaired community. Some beneficiaries of past awards include initiatives to promote girls’ figure skating in Detroit and Harlem, New York; a therapeutic skating program for kids and young adults with physical and mental disabilities in Idaho; and an after-school health and fitness skating program for children in Paramount, California. The Prudential Skating Fund has awarded $125,000 since inception in 2013.
According to Hamilton, the funds awarded to his academy will provide scholarships and learn-to-skate programs for participants with autism, Down syndrome, social anxiety disorder and other special needs.
“We now have the capacity to grow a program designed to serve people with intellectual disabilities, which brings me the same joy that those skaters will experience,” Hamilton said. “Whether the skaters in our program want to pursue figure skating, hockey, speed skating, or recreational skating, we can now build a program like no other.”