Is the American Dream still alive?

By Vladislav Luchianov

Special thanks to Daily Planet for the additional information resources.

Michelle Hedges was abandoned as an infant in China, and later adopted by her parents in Minnesota.
This young girl was born in Zhejiang province in China on Jan. 5, 1998. One day later she was placed on the steps of Quzhou orphanage with a note saying, “This is Kening” (meaning peaceful). She spent the next nine months at this orphanage being fed only milk and sugar. In October 1998, while weighing only 12 pounds, she was adopted and moved into the Corcoran neighborhood. During the next two years, she continued to grow and experience life in South Minneapolis. However, her life took an unexpected turn when her adoptive parents divorced. It was difficult at first—custody issues, split loyalties—but this young girl continued to grow and develop.

When she was 4 years old, what began as just another winter day in Minnesota and just an ordinary day at the park would actually begin a journey that was anything but ordinary. Her dad took her to Longfellow Park, just like he did every day he had her. But this day he took her to the ice rink, put ice skates on her feet, told her not to be afraid, and that if she fell down, he would pick her up. Then he placed her on the ice. Much to his surprise and great delight, she wasn’t afraid, she didn’t fall (not even once) and she moved with such grace and poise. It was as if she had been born to ice skate.

Unfortunately, as often happens, the way in competitive skating for children from the working class families is very difficult, even if the child has a real talent. Figure skating is still a very expensive sport.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to reach some level of figure skating—not only in length of training, but in terms of dollars and cents? Including those sparkly costumes, how much does it cost to be a competitive figure skater? Have you ever wondered if any child has been denied his/her dream of becoming an accomplished skater, not for lack of skill or effort, but solely due to a lack of financial resources?

Despite all the difficulties, Michelle and her mom continue to fight for the dream. Now this Intermediate level figure skater is preparing for the next season and wants to compete at various events.

“This year I plan on training six days a week and 2-3 hours a day. I hope to compete in one competition every month starting in May. Some of my goals are to take 1st at the Minnesota State Competition and make it to Jr. Nationals. Other goals I have in skating are to do well at every competition, land my double axel and hopefully a triple. Right now what I’m doing to help stay in this sport financially is baby-sitting. I have also done some modeling and hope to do more. I put all the money toward skating. I also use all my birthday money for skating.” said Michelle.

“Michelle has all the pieces but one. She has talent, drive, and a powerful work ethic. What she and her families lack is money. My husband and I are stretched thin financially trying to raise 6 children (not including the one out of the house and in the Air Force). We do whatever we can to keep all our kids in sports, including trolling the alleys for scrap metal. We volunteer, do taste tests, whatever we can to make this happen.” Michelle’s mom, Kate Zabinski told.

She created a charity project to raise funds in support of her talented daughter.

“I’m divorced from her dad, but he and his family have not fared well in this economy either. He would do anything to help Michelle and works whatever overtime is available to him, but it is nowhere near enough. This is, at minimum, $20,000 a year sport. That is a huge amount for people in our position to raise. One hour of ice time is $12. And Michelle is skating a couple hours a day. By fall she hopes to be skating full time and studying online in the evenings.

There are so many expenses: the coach’s fees, skates, sharpenings, competition fees, and costumes (although all last year we borrowed them and we will continue to do that as long as necessary). Our goal for this crowdfunding opportunity is to raise $5,000. Anything we raise over that will also go to Michelle’s skating and we will have other fundraising efforts throughout the year.” she said.

I want to believe that every person is worthy of his or her dreams. I would hope that the dictatorship of money in today’s world will not become an obstacle to the implementation of the children’s dreams. Also, I’m sure that there are people who are willing to help young talents.

You can help here: Michelle’s project page

Also, I suggest you to watch a video about this young skater

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