CLEVELAND - On a Thursday October afternoon, an Olympic figure skating champion is standing inside of a local eatery in Independence, Ohio talking with fans and signing autographs.
But he's not there to talk about himself-- he's there on a mission—to put the Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute out of business.
"I know I'm fundraising for them, but I'm just trying to put them out of business," said Hamilton.
Scott Hamilton, who won gold in the 1984 Olympics, is now becoming better known for his crusade against cancer, than he is for his signature backflip.
CLICK ON THE VIDEO PLAYER TO WATCH AN EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH SCOTT HAMILTON.
Hamilton is in town to promote his 13th annual An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends show to benefit cancer research and the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative . The show, held annually at Quicken Loans Arena will take place on Sat. Nov. 3 at 5 p.m., followed by a gala benefit at Cleveland's Renaissance Hotel ballroom.
Hamilton takes on campaigning for his event with the passion of a presidential candidate campaigning for office, perhaps even more so. For him, the battle against cancer is personal, but maybe not exactly for the reason you would think.
In 1997, Hamilton had a much publicized battle with testicular cancer, undergoing treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. But the war he has waged against cancer began long before his own cancer diagnosis.
For Hamilton the fight began when he was just a teenager, when cancer claimed the life of his mother. Dorothy Hamilton never lived to see her son fulfill his dream of becoming a World and Olympic champion.
"My passion to rid the world of cancer came from losing my mother. She lost her battle to cancer—I survived, she didn't. Why was I allowed to survive when she wasn't? What can I do to prevent a child from feeling the pain that I did when I lost my mother," he said.
Hamilton is a lifetime spokesperson for Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, where he founded the CARES Initiative in 1999. The CARES Initiative is comprised of three major components; the 4th Angel Mentoring Program, designed to match newly diagnosed patients with trained volunteers who are also cancer survivors, as well as matching new caregivers with a mentor; Chemocare.com , a unique website designed to help patients better understand the chemotherapy experience; and research funding.
The Scott Hamilton & Friends show has provided many memorable moments in the past – it set the scene for Scott to propose to his wife Tracie and years later is was where Scott introduced us to his young sons Aidan and Maxx.
Keeping with the tradition of special surprises, Hamilton has invited all 13 United States Figure Skating Olympic Gold medalists to make an appearance at the show-- a fitting tribute for the show's 13th year.
"When I heard the number 13, I kind of got scared about it being unlucky…In the history of figure skating there's been 13 skaters from the United States to win the Olympic gold medal—it's kind of a nice number. So I got on the phone, and I called all of them."
This year's show will feature five-time Grammy award-winner Wynonna Judd as the musical guest. Called the "greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline" by Rolling Stone, Wynonna has sold more than 30 million albums throughout her nearly three decade career.
Skating to the music of Wynonna Judd will be more than a dozen Olympic, U.S. and World skating champions, including Dorothy Hamill, Brian Boitano, Joannie Rochette, Yuka Sato, Jozef Sabovcik, Jeremy Abbott, Nicole Bobek, Alissa Czisny, Caryn Kadavy, Ashley Wagner, Ryan Bradley, John and Sinead Kerr, and Rockne Brubaker.
WHAT: "An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends"
WHEN: Ice Show: 5 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. Black-tie gala: 7:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.
TICKETS: Start at $29.50. Tickets are available by visiting theqarena.com or calling 1-800-332-2287 or 216-420-2200.
Tickets to the gala benefit dinner are available by calling Liz Lindecke, Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland Clinic at 216- 445-0099.
For more information on The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative call the CARES hotline at 216-445-2573 or visit scottcares.org.