• By: Katie Hartai

Liz Manley and friends fundraise for youth mental health in Ottawa

Photo courtesy of Photographics Photography. 

Canada’s skating sweetheart, Elizabeth Manley and other Olympic Champions will gracefully glide around the ice rink at Ottawa’s TD Place as part of a two-day fundraiser on February 13 and 14, 2015.

A portion of the money raised will go to the Do It For Daron (DIFD) Fund courtesy of the Ottawa Senators Foundation, along with the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. These donations will work to inspire conversation and education about youth mental health while supplying help to those who need it.

“Once we can start the conversation about mental health issues, that is when the world will become better,” says professional figure skater Elizabeth Manley.

Photo courtesy of Mary Bucholtz.
Photo courtesy of Mary Bucholtz.

Day one of the fundraiser presents a Gala Dinner at the Brookstreet Hotel. The evening includes talks from Olympians and an acoustic performance by Alan Frew, lead singer of the Canadian band Glass Tiger. There will also be live and silent auctions for guests to partake in.

The following day, TD Place hosts the Star Studded Ice Show, a skating extravaganza featuring some of the world’s top figure skaters, extreme skaters, aerial acts and live music.

“I created it so that every age, every gender, every kind of person can come out to this event and enjoy it,” Manley explains. “It is just a real fun mix of different types of acts.”

Part of the incredible lineup is a performance by Manley herself.

Skating since three-years-old, Manley is the 1988 Olympic and World Silver Medalist, 1988 Olympic Freestyle Champion, three-time Canadian Champion, Member of the Order of Canada and Member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. She is also the first Canadian female to successfully land a triple-double combination jump in competition.

Although Manley has had great achievements in her lifetime, she has also overcome serious hardships with mental health issues.

Meissner_Kimmie_Courtesy of IMG“I was diagnosed with depression and a nervous breakdown when I was 16,” she says. “Physically I completely fell apart. I lost all my hair, gained a tremendous amount of weight, and ended up quitting skating.”

Eventually an Ottawa phycologist reached out to the young athlete hoping to help her.

“Embracing the help that was offered to me I was standing on the podium in Calgary four years later and I was able to overcome it,” Manley describes.

Manley encourages Ottawans to join the Gala Dinner and Ice Show to help fundraise for the affiliated charities that support youth fighting mental health issues.

“Although, the event is not just about raising money and awareness for two amazing charities,” she explains. “It is to get the message out.”

Praising the progression of mental health understanding since her diagnosis in the 80s, Manley is pleased to see the stigma around such issues slowly dissolving.

Stojiko_Elvis_Courtesy_Jana Chytilova_The Ottawa Citizen“It’s really rewarding for me to step out in front of thousands of people and say ‘let’s talk about this’ and ‘let’s not be afraid about this’.”

Elvis Stojko is another athlete performing who is bound to leave the audience in awe. He is a two-time Olympic silver medalist and three-time World Champion.

Emmanuella Balmori, who Manley describes as a “showstopper,” will be adding a unique talent to the show as an Aerial Hoop Performer.

Music in the Star Studded Ice Show will be played by Alan Frew. Among his accomplishments, he has won five Juno Awards and wrote the 2010 Olympic Broadcast Theme “I Believe”.

To purchase tickets for the Star Studded Ice Show visit the TD Place website.