|Scott's signature, crowd-pleasing back flip (Photo courtesy of Scott Hamilton Cares)|
Champion figure skater Scott Hamilton has proven that there is no challenge too big to overcome. The 1984 Olympic gold medalist has managed to put a positive outcome on every adversity he encounters. Throughout his life, Scott has battled health issues, the loss of his mother, and the strain of heavy training and competition, and yet he has always managed to stay active and embrace life.
Scott grew up in Bowling Green Ohio, the adopted son of two teachers, Ernest and Dorothy Hamilton. His father was a professor of biology at Bowling Green State University; his mother was a grade school teacher and then a marriage and family relations counselor at the university. Dorothy encouraged and inspired many young people and couples, and also proved to be one of Scott’s biggest sources of support and inspiration early on.
| (Photo courtesy of Scott Hamilton Cares)|
For the first part of his childhood, Scott was shuffled from one hospital or doctor’s office to another, trying to find a cure for an unknown disease that made him stop growing at the age of two. He had his mom by his side, his advocate and friend, who exemplified the spirit and determination we now see in Scott. Although unwavering in their efforts to get young Scott Hamilton growing again, the doctors eventually had no other choice but to send him home to begin living life as a normal kid. It was at this time that Scott first stepped onto the ice.
Soon Saturday skate time at the university rink grew into daily practice, and, with this combination of skating and a regimented diet, Scott began to grow once again. He would never catch up to his peers in height, but he could catch up—and speed past them—in skates. Still considered short and scrappy, Scott threw himself into skating; on the ice he was fast, confident, and talented. His size became an asset for him.
| (photo by Paul Harvath, courtesy of U.S. Figure Skating)|
With hard work and the support of his family, Scott’s skating career blossomed. He skated in national competitions, consistently ranking in the top of his divisions. With all his talent and all the opportunity that Ernest and Dorothy helped to supply, Scott didn’t have the Olympic dream that you would imagine a skilled and determined young athlete would have. All that changed when Scott’s mother died of cancer. At that point, he determined that he would become a world champion and honor his mother for all of her perseverance, strength, and integrity.
In 1980, Scott was honored to carry the American flag for the 1980 Olympic Team at Lake Placid’s opening ceremony. Aside from the excitement exuding from a young first-time Olympic athlete, the opening ceremony may have been the high point for that year; Scott finished 50th in the skating competition. Four years later, with wins in every national and world competitions, Scott won the gold in the Sarajevo Olympics. Along with an Olympic gold, Hamilton has won numerous national and world titles, and has been inducted into both the Olympic Hall of Fame and the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.
Having grown accustomed to overcoming adversity in the rink, Scott tackled the next phase in his skating career with gusto. Disappointed and frustrated with the lack of opportunity for professional male skaters, Scott took action. In 1986, he founded a professional figure skating tour. This tour would later be named Stars on Ice; it was one of the first outlets of its kind to provide male and female skaters with an outlet for a professional career performing on the ice.
|Scott hams it up during Stars on Ice (Photo courtesy of Stars on Ice)|
The next challenge for Hamilton threatened his life. In 1997, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He fought the disease (now considered cured) with the same exemplary grace and boldness he displays on ice and became an inspiration to a whole new audience of people. As Scott moved forward in his career and life, he married wife Tracie in 2002 and they welcomed a son, Aidan, the following year. It looked like all was going well for Scott, and that life back in his now hometown of Englewood, Colorado was returning to normal. All that changed when Scott began to feel week and noticed that his vision was getting blurry.
Doctors found a large unidentifiable tumor in Scott’s brain. Tests showed that it was slow growing and non-cancerous, and had been growing for quite some time. These findings may provide some answers to the illness he suffered as a child, but it is not the answers on which Scott thrives, it is on his optimism. For Scott, this latest medical scare offered an important reminder that life is a gift, and supplied an opportunity to educate more people.
| (Photo courtesy of Stars on Ice)|
Scott’s experience in the ice rink and with cancer is helping millions of people. He works with the Special Olympics, serves as a lifetime spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center, and has founded the Scott Hamilton CARES initiative, a website that reaches out to cancer patients to help them better understand their disease and treatment. When Scott was going through his own cancer treatment, he found that most of the information available online was written in medical terminology; it was more intimidating than helpful. He set out to build a remedy. The result is a website that educates, inspires, supports, and brings together cancer patients and survivors, and their families.