A Sarnia Olympian is holding a meet-and-greet at the Point Edward Community Hall to thank the community for helping get him and his family to the PyeongChang games.
Figure skater Michael Marinaro will be on hand to chat and sign autographs while footage is shown of him performing with pairs partner Kirsten Moore-Towers.
Moore-Towers can’t attend the June 3 gathering because of prior commitments but her parents are coming to the party.
Marinaro said one of the greatest things about the Olympics was having his family in South Korea, parents Albert and Bev and brothers Rob and Joe.
“That was huge. I couldn’t imagine having that moment without them,” he said. “Sharing that moment in the Canada House with Mom, Dad and both of my brothers was a very special moment for me that I’ll cherish the rest of my life.”
Getting the family there was aided by a local crowdfunding effort. Albert Marinaro said the GoFundMe page started by one of his co-workers raised more than $20,000.
“The whole community was behind Michael all the way. It felt like all of Sarnia was there with him,” he said.
“We had worked at this our whole life and now that the chance came up — the family and the boys — we were all going to do whatever it took to get to the Olympics.”
Michael Marinaro began skating at the Point Edward Skating Club at the age of four. By the time he was 10 he’d already set his sights on becoming an Olympian, he said.
But competing at a higher level meant moving around, and that put added weight on his family’s shoulders, he said.
“(It was) a lot of sacrifice for both my parents — financially, time, everything —and both my brothers driving me to and from Strathroy my whole childhood,” he said.
The road took him to Kitchener and then Montreal, where he and Moore-Towers now train. The pair, who teamed up in 2014, has won bronze at the Canadian Championships the past two years.
They placed 11th at the Olympics in February and then followed that up with a 6th place finish at the World Championships in Italy.
Marinaro said he is very thankful to the entire community for its support “this year and the last twenty years,” and he’s still hungry to bring home more medals.
Albert Marinaro said the experience of watching his son perform on the world’s biggest stage was unbelievable.
“It was awesome, what can I say, awesome, awesome, awesome.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: meet and greet with Michael Marinaro
WHEN: June 3, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
WHERE: Point Edward Community Hall, beside the arena at 210 Monk St.