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Olympic champion to ice skate in charity event at Breslin this weekend

April 25, 2001

Psychology senior Mark Lindsey left the Okemos Meijer on Monday with a few things from his shopping list and one thing he wasn’t counting on - the autograph of an Olympic Champion.

Tara Lipinski, the 1998 figure skating gold medalist, spent the afternoon signing autographs to promote the charity show she’s headlining at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at Munn Ice Arena. The show is part of the Miracle Match Tour, benefiting the leukemia-fighting Miracle Match Foundation.

The show also features Olympic Gold Medalist Ilia Kulik and nine other medalist and World Team members.

Lindsey heard Lipinski was in the store over the PA system and at first didn’t believe “the legend,” was really there, he said.

“I thought it was BS or for a later date or something,” Lindsey said. “But absolutely, I’d like to meet her. I’ll ask her what it was like to be a child star - if she has the time.”

She did have the time Monday, as only 15 fans straggled by in the first half hour.

Plans for the tour began just six weeks ago, leaving little time for performers and public relations representatives to prepare, said Vonnie Woodnick, an investor with the Miracle Match Foundation and personal friend of Lipinski.

But Lipinski said she’s happy to be a part of the cause despite limited response.

“It’s a pleasure knowing you’re skating out there for the fans and for a good cause,” the soon-to-be 19-year-old said.

Although she has never personally known anyone with leukemia, Lipinski said the founder and the cause sparked her interest. Tennis professional Bill Przybysz founded the organization in 1997 after he beat his case of acute monocytic leukemia by finding a one-in-a-million bone marrow match, Lipinski said.

“His was even rarer than most bone marrow,” she said. “I just hope the show sparks people’s interest.”

Her presence in the front of the clothing department at Meijer, 2055 W. Grand River Ave. in Okemos, slowly conjured up interest of its own as shoppers realized she was there.

Becky Balger, a 16-year-old Okemos High School student, arrived at 2:30 p.m. to be first in line.

Although she isn’t a skater herself, Balger said she thought of Lipinski when she was going through hard times and had even devoted her Web page to her.

She even skipped out of her final two hours of class to see Lipinski Monday, Balger said.

“She’s close to my age, and I just admire her.” Balger said.

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