Family, Friends and Fans wrapped up Naperville’s Evan Lysacek Day by holding an event at Rosebud to help raise money for the Stephanie Joseph Memorial Foundation.
Dedicated, hard working, innovative and always smiling. These are just a few of the words used to describe Stephanie Joseph. The former friend of the Olympic gold medalist died of cancer in 2008.
As youngsters, the same coach taught both Stephanie and Evan how to skate. They even traveled to competitions together with their families. And just like Evan, Stephanie showed unlimited potential.
“My wife first introduced Stephanie to ice skating when she was four years old. And she was going at the fastest pace you could image,” said Joe Joseph, her father.
Stephanie excelled through the levels of skating along with Evan. But at the age of eight, Stephanie was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare form of tissue cancer. Surgery, chemo and radiation slowed her skates, but didn’t stop Stephanie’s zest for life.
“She knew the adversity she had. Everybody else knew what she went through,” Joseph said. “But she never complained about it. She would get up early in the morning to go figure skating, come back and then go to school. She never lost a beat.”
As Naperville celebrated Evan’s accomplishments, it was important to him to take time out to honor his old friend.
“We first started skating together, so she was really my first skating companion, and we lived next door to each other.” Lysacek says.
“My daughter and Evan and Stephanie Joseph all skated together. So it means a lot that Evan continues his support for the foundation,” said Lynn Hill, a foundation board member.
To honor Stephanie’s spirit a scholarship was set up by the Stephanie Joseph Memorial Foundation to help other children who face hardships.
Elizabeth Clark was one of the first recipients of the scholarship. After a car accident in 2008, she was told she would never walk again. She attended the day’s events in high heels.
“It is really inspiring me and taught me to take one day at a time, no matter
what life gives you. Just to take it on and still do your best at everything you can do, like Stephanie Joseph did,” Clark said.
The Stephanie Joseph Memorial Foundation also gives money to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The organization granted Stephanie’s wish to skate with Olympian Kurt Browning.
“Steph always wanted to help others and it’s in that spirit that there is wonderful to have a foundation like this and to continue what she wanted to do,” Joseph said.
He adds, even though his daughter has passed, it feels good to do something great in her honor. “It’s a way of easing the pain a little bit, at least knowing that a lot of young people will benefit.”
The Stephanie Joseph Memorial Foundation plans to hold it’s next event on September 11th. Evan Lysacek plans to attend as well.