AMHERST, NY - Autistic teen Krista Kellner of Amherst, NY will take to the ice for a solo performance in "Musselman's Applesauce Presents The Music of Seal on Ice," December 18 at 8 pm at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The show stars singer and songwriter, Seal, performing live, and the cast includes Olympic Gold Medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Brian Boitano, plus many other world and national champion skaters.
The show will be televised nationwide on NBC from 4 to 6 pm, on New Year's Day.
Kellner says that skating helped her to discover her competitive spirit and strengthened her confidence in learning to live with autism. At a young age, Kellner was frightened of large crowds, but she has now proudly performed two solo performances in front of 2,000 people. "The Music of Seal on Ice" will be her third and largest performance. She's looking forward to the show and says, "Skating in the show is so exciting! I like to skate in front of my family and friends, and a lot of people. I feel happy when I skate to the beautiful and exciting music!"
Her parents, Dave and Maria noted that "the discipline involved in skating helped her to focus better while studying for school." It has also allowed her father to share the experience with her early on as Kellner's volunteer. While struggling in other areas of her life, she has excelled at ice skating and has learned to apply that same hard work and dedication to school and music study, her parents say.
This ambitious high school student is in advanced Spanish and holds a A- average in most of her other classes. She's been on the honor roll since fifth grade and Kellner loves to play the clarinet. Her magical fantasy idea and drawings were chosen this year as the theme of the 2008 show for her ice skating club, Gliding Stars. "I feel you can be who you want to be when you skate. I feel free on the ice. I can be who I want to be. I can do anything I want!"
Gliding Stars, with headquarters in Amherst, is a leader in adaptive ice skating for people with physical, mental, emotional or multiple challenges. Kellner's coach, Elizabeth O'Donnell, is the founder who began teaching adaptive ice skating in 1976 in Buffalo, New York.
O'Donnell has been working with Kellner since she was three years old. "Krista screamed her entire first year on ice, but by age seven was skating at an intermediate level and by age eight, was an advanced ice skater," noted O'Donnell. "As a performer Krista has great presence and keeps thinking about each move as it comes up. She chose her own music and loves portraying it on the ice."
The "Music of Seal on Ice" will benefit Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the growing autism epidemic and to raising money to fund scientists who are searching for a cure. Five dollars from every ticket will be donated to the organization.
Multi-Grammy award winner Seal says "Performing for a live audience is always a thrill for me, particularly with songs from my new album that is really a return to my musical roots." He says, "The addition of these world class skaters as a visual element to the show will make this a fantastic event benefiting a wonderful cause."
"The passion and heart that is the trademark of Seal's award-winning music clearly goes way beyond his musical talent," said Bob and Suzanne Wright, Co-Founders of Autism Speaks. "We cannot express our gratitude enough to Seal, NBC, Musselman's Applesauce, Disson Skating and Comcast Spectacor, not only for helping us raise vital funds to support autism research, but also for shining a bright light on the autism epidemic that now affects 1 in 150 people."
Stephen Disson, whose company, Disson Skating, along with Comcast Spectacor, produces 10 nationally televised shows a year on NBC, has a personal connection with Autism Speaks. His step-son has been treated for the condition at Kennedy- Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
Founded by Elizabeth O'Donnell, a former professional figure skater, Gliding Stars enables people of all ages who have disabilities to increase their personal potential by developing ice skating skills in a regular program of instruction and practice in their own communities. The instructional and motivational program culminates with an end-of-the season performance each March at the Amherst Pepsi Center.
More information about Gliding Stars is available by calling 608-8345.