I spent every Monday morning of the Fall 2016 semester at Texas A&M University on the ice. I learned all of the basics and it was probably one of the most engaging courses of my undergraduate career. It was majestic, beautiful, and powerful. I loved being out on the ice. Soon after, I accepted an internship with the United States Olympic Committee and I found myself surrounded by athletes at the highest level of their sport.
Tarah Kayne was one of them. Tarah was the 2016 U.S. National Champion for pairs figure skating and I couldn’t even skate backwards. None of that really mattered. We quickly bonded over less athletic things like cheesy Netflix shows and funny tweets. Tarah became a close friend of mine and I began to forget that she was even an athlete at all. She was just a great person and I think that was all that really mattered.
From the 2017 World Synchronized Skating Championships to watching Marlon Wayans perform a comedy skit in Denver, we did it all. Tarah was recovering from a knee injury and despite feeling broken she somehow found a way to keep pushing forward. Her dreams have always been endless and known no boundary. I watched her fight her way back to health. I watched her get stronger and better despite the fact that everything was painful. Tarah was on crutches and was unable to do simple things like walking up a flight of stairs or getting food from the dining hall by herself. Still, she stood tall and remained a trooper.
In April, I lost my mobility almost completely due to a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. I spent a month in the hospital and despite being in the middle of intense training and getting ready for the upcoming season, Tarah and her amazing partner Danny O’Shea came to visit me. Tarah prepared the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever received and brought it to me personally. My family was on vacation at Disney World and knowing just how badly I wanted to be there she brought me a Disney coloring book amongst so many other things. She walked into my room on her own two feet without a crutch or even a brace. I felt overjoyed to see the amazing recovery she was making and knew that if she could do it, I could too. I had to.
Tarah kept in contact with me and even told me about a close family member of hers that also suffers from the disease. To say that she went above and beyond is an extreme understatement. I am beyond thankful.
Tarah moved back to Florida to continue training that summer. I moved out to California for a job soon after completing my inpatient rehabilitation and getting back on my feet. Sadly, life happened and we weren’t able to stay in touch like we would’ve liked to. Sometimes things just happen so quickly and we’re unable to say all of the words we’d like to say in the way we’d like to say them. I wanted to thank her for everything she and Danny did for me. I wanted to show her just how appreciative I was but the timing wasn’t right. I needed this full circle moment to be able to tell the story the way I wanted to tell it.
On January 6, 2018, I stood on my own two feet and watched Tarah and Danny as they prepared to take the ice. They were so alive and filled with joy. I’d never seen them skate before and for the first time ever I got the chance to witness them in their element. The announcers began to introduce them and their faces were plastered all over one of the largest arenas in the United States. The pair skated an amazing program and went home with the 2018 Silver medal for pairs figure skating. Not only was she walking and skating again, she was a champion.
Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea you two are your own success story. You should be so proud of yourself and I can’t wait to continue watching you shine. Maybe now that we can both walk again I’ll finally learn how to skate backwards. After all, I’ve got some pretty great coaches.
The world is yours, Tarah and Danny. Go forth and prosper endlessly.