Tara's Olympic GOLDEN Anniversary!
It's been an exciting four years since Tara's victory at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and during that time, Tara has represented the United States and US figure skating in awesome fashion as our Olympic Gold Medalist and the youngest Olympic champion in history.
In celebration of Tara's four year Olympic Anniversary, and in appreciation of Tara's unwavering devotion to her fans, TaraFans.com surprised Tara with the gifts of a lifetime this year in Albany, NY!
Now, following the presentation of the gifts to Tara, we are excited to present all of you, Tara's GREAT Fans, with this feature story, a collaborative team effort to share our enthusiasm from one of the greatest nights of our lives. Most importantly, we aim to provide all of Tara's fans with a greater understanding, and a clear picture of an amazing experience that Tara, herself, said she will remember for the rest of her life.
We wish that every Tara Fan on planet Earth could have been with us to see the priceless look of joy on Tara's face as she received her gifts, made possible by all of Tara's great fans from TaraFans.com. Words do little to describe the moment. A moment made up of feelings and emotions that only the heart can understand.
Despite a lack of sleep, a ton of travel, and a lot of continued hard work, the memories of Friday's thrilling experience are more energizing than any amount of sleep could ever be.
Dreams of Inspiration
More than 7 years ago, Mike Mika said, upon seeing Tara skate for the first time, "There's our next GOLD medalist!" But was it just a dream?
A total of 4 years Stephen Covell has dreamed of giving Tara a certain special gift for winning the GOLD in Nagano. But was it just a dream, also?
Of course Tara had a dream and she saw the GOLD too! But again, was this also "Just A Dream or something more? A sign of things to come? The writing on the wall? Destiny? Fate? Or a passionate DESIRE to Be The BEST! If we take all those and combine them, do we come up with a prodigy?
BORN TO SKATE! And born dreaming of WINNING!! Tara is proof that dreams come true.
The last four months have found us highly motivated as we set out with a goal to reward Tara for being the AWESOME ACHIEVER that SHE IS! Inspired by Tara's example, we set out with a vision and a dream to make Tara's four year olympic anniversary - The Best Ever!
But wait, Tara is a...
US CHAMPION !!!!
WORLD CHAMPION !!!!
OLYMPIC CHAMPION !!!!
What can you give someone like that?
You give Tara the support that was there for her during the hard times. You keep her surrounded with her fans, and the LOVE they bring. You show her how much she means to you, and you pour your heart into it all, every step of the way!
The Dream was born!
Listen to the anatomy of the gift making process if you will, and realize, for all of the work that we put into these gifts for Tara, Tara has put HUNDREDS of times more effort towards becoming the best for her fans!
Tara demands excellence of herself, so we, too, had to be GREAT and the clock was ticking!
We all knew that we needed to perform in order to come through for Tara. The question was asked, "What will we get Tara for her 4 Year Golden Anniversary Gift? The Gold Bladed skates idea came out from Stephen, almost before the question was asked! We all agreed upon the idea and we felt that Tara's fans would rally behind the cause.
Price Check! Reality Check!
After checking into the cost associated with the skates, TaraFans officers called a meeting to discuss options. It became apparent that we either needed a MIRACLE or FIVE of them to make the idea a possibility. It seemed the idea was dying before it took off. Mike found it necessary to remind the TaraFans Team of Top Officers of Tara's words, Always Believe! A whole lot of prayer and positive attitude sent us on a road from which there was no turning back.
Contacts were made with several companies who agreed to work with TaraFans on our dream, and new life was breathed into the gift idea!
Meanwhile, the call was put out to the TaraFans member base for all who wished to contribute, and did they ever!! It became apparent very quickly into the campaign that Tara's FANS LOVE her very much! :) Young and old, dollar by dollar, they helped to make Tara's gift a reality. So much so, it became apparent that we could do MORE than we ever dreamed of!
The skates were now a reality! Custom gold plated blades were ordered from England, and Harlick worked with us at TaraFans to design a "fitting pair" of skates.
Step one in the design process of our dream skates for Tara was the most critical part of all - the engraving of our words to Tara onto the blades! Finding an engraver with the courage to undertake the assignment of engraving
Tara Lipinski's gold blades was not easy! One look at the blades was enough to intimidate most prospective engravers! Fortunately an arrangement was made with the top engraver in the area, and an appointment was booked! One week later, our hired craftsman emerged from his shop with stunningly-engraved blades worthy only of Tara herself!
The skates were then mailed to TaraFans.com Operations Director, Mike Mika, for completion of the final design and photo work.
A few days later, Mike was led by faith to pay a visit to the respected Hasko Jewelers, in downtown New Cumberland, PA. Mike walked into Hasko's with Tara's skates and an idea, powered by prayer and a dream. It was soon apparent that we had found the right place!
Hasko Goldsmith, Kevin Fertenbaugh, took a quick glance at the already engraved skate blades and said something along the lines of "Tara Lipinski. Awe man, she's an awesome skater!"
We were all reassured with those words! Mike met with Kevin several times over as many weeks and worked on the design and specific details every step of the way.
Originally, the plan was to mount a diamond into the toe pick on one of the gold skate blades. TaraFans top officers all received information and actively participated in several decisions throughout the design process. Eventually, the toe pick idea was replaced when an even greater idea was born.
The diamond was still to be included, just in a more magnificent way! Kevin and Mike discussed options and everyone agreed upon having a gold pendant/medallion custom made for Tara with the diamond mounted in it!
Several engraving possibilities were discussed and we let the final opinion rest in the hands of Mr. Fertenbaugh, as his experience commanded the respect his work earns him in these parts!
Kevin did not disappoint! Gift number two was secure!
The time was getting closer and there was always something to do with the gifts! Tara's fans gave a lot, and trusted a lot, and they all deserved the best we could give.
While the medallion was being created, photos of Tara were selected and printed for thank you's which are being mailed to every contributor right now.
We also realized that we needed to capture the beauty of the skates and provide Tara's fans with the best possible photos we could create so that you, the fans, could all see exactly what your generous contributions helped make possible!
Tara's gold-bladed skates were set up on ice in the "Twin Ponds Family Skating Center," in Mechanicsburg, PA, where they were afforded the attention of their very own photo shoot! Ice time was graciously donated by Twin Ponds for the sole purpose of photographing Tara's anniversary skates. They even cut the Ice for TaraFans and Tara's skates!
Several media sources we're notified of Tara's upcoming Olympic Anniversary and TaraFans.com's plans to honor Tara for her achievements. TaraFans succeeded in getting Tara's Olympic Anniversary mentioned in the Sunday papers throughout Central Pennsylvania. Thankfully, the paper buried the story and our secret was still not out!
Some members who did see the story, notified TaraFans with VOWS of SECRECY! Wow! What dedicated members we have, and Caring Fans
After a well thought out package for the gift was not working out like we had hoped, an emergency shopping trip was in order for the final presentation package to be put together.
Following a long visit to the perfect store, the finished gift package was in kit form and ready for the final assembly to take place in 2 days, 300 miles away, in an Albany New York hotel room!
The very last touch was held until both the necklace and skates were ready. Tara's gifts were taken to St. Theresa's Catholic Church in New Cumberland, PA, where the Rev. Lawrence offered his well wishes and blessings on Tara's health and gifts, as well as her anniversary, and thanked Tara (via letter) for the positive example she shows the children she comes in contact with, and even offered a Sunday service in her name.
On the way out, Reverend Lawerance showed Mike the garden area of the church grounds where the "NEWLY INTRODUCED" Saint Theresa Roses are planted! They are so new that the only place they exist outside of the greenhouse is in this one tiny little garden! Oh, don't bother trying, I've jumped through hoops, made calls out of the country even, and couldn't come up with any of the plants yet. They have to propagate them longer, another year maybe, before they're available in limited numbers.
Just before I left, he pulled out a nice new pen from his private stock for Tara, too! Basket stuffer!
PEPSI ARENA ~ ALBANY, NY
APRIL 5, 2002
After a final dinner meeting, TaraFans.com representatives, President Stephen Covell and Director, Mike Mika, arrived at the arena with family members and fellow Tara Fans.
Only seconds after finding our seating rows for the evening's SOI show, the lights went down and we heard Lucinda's music before we entered into the seating area.
TaraFans had arrived on cue!
The Albany show wasn't sold out, but it did not matter. The place was a veritable treasure trove of dedicated skate fans. It was a nice and vocal crowd, almost rowdy as skate crowds go!
Many of the skaters received at least groupings of fans giving ovations and several received quite generous ovations indeed! The Albany crowd even gave a bit of an ovation for the "Pin Wheel" the cast forms on center ice. It was pure electric in that place at that moment!!!
Our considerable seating arrangements gave us a nice opportunity to get some great photos, and of course they will be featured here at TaraFans.com for all of Tara's fine fans to enjoy!
Tara turned in a beautiful night of skating, including her American Tribute program! It was so great to see Tara look like she is feeling well again! As Tara's "American Tribute" wrapped up, Mike jumped to his feet, starting the crowd's ovation, and let out a huge whistle! You could just see the joy and pleasure on Tara's face from the enormous crowd response! That was GREAT to see Tara so happy! Just the way it should be!
As always, all of the little girl's screams were for Tara ("WE LOVE YOU TARA!" - "GO TARA!"), and on this night, the most magnificent of gifts were all Tara's, too!
The show wrapped up and we made our ways towards the designated reception area as directed. After a brief delay, our anxious group was led backstage, with Tara's gift in tow.
We were given a private table and told to be patient! WOW, after four solid months of hard work, our hearts were all pounding in anticipation of our time with Tara! As we waited for Tara, our group was pleasantly surprised to have Lucinda Ruh sit down with us for a little while, take some pictures with us, and sign some autographs. Lucinda was very interested in our big gifts for Tara, and after talking for a few minutes, she was on her way.
A moment later, someone was heard saying, "Tara's coming!" and in an instant our sunshine emerged from behind the curtain! Tara was surprised and seemed delighted to see each and every one of us.
After greeting Tara, Mike made the introduction of Tara, to TaraFans President Stephen Covell. Despite meeting Stephen for the first time, Tara responded "Yeah! I Know!" We all laughed and Tara was asked if she was informed of the coming gift? Tara replied, "Yeah, but I don't know what it is?"
After assuring us that she didn't know what the gifts could be, she made her way towards the big gold basket, carefully peeking in at first, and then opening it all the way. Tara was obviously very surprised at what lay before her!
As she unwrapped the gold wrapping on the basket, Tara eyes lit up at the sight of a huge vine of pink roses framing the handle of the basket, and her eyes then met a large stuffed TY rabbit sitting on a bed of black satin, SURROUNDED by vines of PINK ROSES, and wearing Tara's Medallion necklace around it's neck! Tara carefully lifted the rabbit out of the basket and examined the necklace in her hands, turning it over and reading the back...
Tara's energy level went up a notch as she read the engraving on the pendant and exclaimed, Awww! It's engraved on the back too!"
Engraving on pendant:
"Always Close To Your Heart"
"Your Friends and Fans at TaraFans.com."
After a few photos of Tara with the bunny and necklace, Mike asked Tara if she wanted to sit the bunny back in there?
"Yeah :)" Tara said.
Mike replied, "No. You know what?"
"What?", Tara asked.
"Maybe not?" Mike replied.
"No?" Tara asked again.
"No :)" Mike said to Tara, "Maybe dig around in there a little bit more?"
"Really!? :)" She cried!
Tara searches through the basket, and discovers the first skate hidden under the black satin lining...
Oh? Oh my!??? There's MORE????
Oh my Gosh!
OH MY GOSH!!!
Mike backed up, and started taking photos, as Stephen explained some things to Tara about the gifts while she read the two sides of the first engraved gold blade:
1998 Olympic Champion
TARA K. LIPINSKI
In CELEBRATION of your 4 Year
OLYMPIC "GOLDEN" ANNIVERSARY!
Camera flashes are popping off left and right! It's like a mini press conference for Tara! Tara turns the skate over in her hands and reads the second side of the blade:
In loving admiration of all you do.
You're Simply the Best! From your FANS at TARAFANS.com
She's almost in tears now. :)
"I don't know what to say" Tara repeats over & over. "I think this is the coolest gift I've ever gotten!"
Tara tells us that she's going to put them on display in her "trophy room".
"These are so beautiful! :)" "I Love Theeeese," Tara coooos, with the sweetest little southern accent. :)
We reply, We love you, Tara. It's from all your fans! We're taking care of you!
While all this was happening, we gave Tara a card of congratulations for her four year Olympic anniversary, and all of the contributor's names were pointed out to Tara on the card. THANK YOU to ALL of you who made these gifts possible!
Tara has already sent this special message to all of the contributors to her gifts from TaraFans.com!
To: Alyssa Carlee, Angie Monsour, Betsy McCann, Brent Davis, Carol Kelly, Chuck and Bev Covell, Danielle and David Mueller, David G. Powell, Ed Valmore, Frank and Claire Wolff, Ivy Zenik, Jackie, James Thomas, Jeanne Yenchochic, Jessica Haredulak, Jill Barker, John Clemens, Joseph CziKora, Julia Teska, Katie Vogt, Larry Valentine, Luke Anderson, Marcos Mitchel, Mark J. Hayman, Mary Anne Drahm, Mr. Douglas A. Rodau, Roy Blizzard Jr., Ryan Franklin, Scott Bouras, Suzie Herrmann, Thomas Adams, Tom & Arlene Caterino, Andy Riddle, Brandon Reed, Brian Jurgensen, Chanie Tenebaum, Colista Gemmell, Danielle Barnet, Dustin Graham, Emily Buchanan, Heather Smith, Jacki, Janice Sheaff, Jessica Hammaker, Jill Walley, John Glenn, Josh Fleming, Karen Ratty, Kristin Carter, Leonard Maxson, Mandi Fenkell, Mark Fenkell, Mark J. Hayman, Mike Boyer, Rebecca, Ruth and Pauline Crowe, Sarah Marshall, Scott Myers, Tammi Wilson, Thomas M. Gilkison, Vicky Frederick, Ziggy Polony
Thank you so much for my beautiful gifts! I could not believe it when I saw it. I was speechless! The necklace with the diamond is incredible and the engraved skates are awesome - I almost cried! I feel so grateful to have such great fans like you. It means so much! I think I have the best fans any athlete ever could think of having! Thank you again! This surprise will stay in my heart forever and always be cherished!
Your contribution to Tara's gifts will always have a special place in Tara's heart! On behalf of everyone on the TaraFans.com Team, we want to tell you how proud we are to be TARA FANS and how excited we are to serve all of Tara's fine fans! We are very happy to have the ability and resources to honor Tara with such wonderful gifts. Tara "more than earns" all of the joy and appreciation she receives from her fans.
For those of you who have them,
"HOLD ON TO YOUR DREAMS!" They do come true!
Thank You notes for everyone who contributed to Tara's gifts will be in the mail very soon, along with your special photo of Tara as our thank you to you for contributing. We also have something else to send all contributors. Tara's gifts were wrapped in shiny gold wrapping paper and we have a piece of the gold for all of you, too!
Tara, Your birthday is two months away!! What will we think of next!?
You're SIMPLY THE BEST!
~ A Complete Gallery of Photos from TaraFans.com's Presentation to Tara is now online! Click here to view the gallery! ~
Stephen Covell is Founder and President of TaraFans.com
Mike Mika is Operations Director of TaraFans.com
© 2002 TaraFans.com Tara Lipinski Fan Club