Vickroy: Teen skates to help kids with cancer
DONNA VICKROY email@example.com | (708) 633-5982 April 11, 2012 10:04PM
Cancer survivors Julia Fischer, a Shepard High School junior, and Kyle Ryan, a Stagg High School senior, pose with Jordan Moeller, a Richards High School junior, who is a national figure skating champ in Crestwood. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
If you go ...
One Skate at a Time: 7 to 8:30 p.m. April 14 at Southwest Ice Arena, 5505 W. 127th St., Crestwood; (708) 371-1344.
Tickets: $20 adults, $12 children ages 6 to 12. Call (708) 927-8867.
For more information on COSI camps, visit
Updated: May 13, 2012 8:02AM
Is there anything more uplifting than a story about kids helping kids?
When she was 10, Julia Fischer was diagnosed with dysgerminoma, a form of ovarian cancer.
She underwent surgery to remove a tumor. That was followed by chemotherapy.
Today, the Shepard High School junior is a cancer survivor. She is also eager to give back.
“It was kind of scary,” Julia said, reflecting on that chapter in her life.
She found comfort and camaraderie at a summer camp where kids with cancer can swim, fish and just be kids without having to worry about their treatment, their prognosis or the way they look.
Camp is where Julia met Kyle Ryan and Matt Dixon. Both boys, also cancer survivors, are now seniors at Stagg High School.
“Camp is like a second family,” Julia said. You don’t have to explain to anyone why you’re pale, bald or don’t feel good.
Julia’s aunt, Debbie Swanson, is a math teacher at Richards. Among the students in her freshman algebra class two years ago was Jordan Moeller.
Jordan, now a junior at the Oak Lawn school and a national figure skating champion, introduced Swanson to the world of Axels, Salchows and sit spins, a world Swanson’s daughter has since entered.
Swanson in turn introduced Jordan to her niece, Julia.
The network grew, and now Jordan, Julia, Kyle and Matt are good friends. As such, they support each other and, whenever possible, help each other out.
On April 14, Jordan will take to the ice at Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood to wow spectators with his leaps, spins and fancy edgework. But the only award he’s hoping to garner that night will be some much-needed cash for One Step at a Time camp, run by Children’s Oncology Services (COSI).
“This is such a worthy cause,” the teen said. He’s calling the event One Skate at a Time.
One Step at a Time camp was founded in 1978 by Edward Baum, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The camp is staffed by volunteer counselors who are also cancer survivors and medical personnel.
It offers swimming, fishing, canoeing and other outdoors activities. Mostly, it provides an opportunity for kids who feel isolated from school, activities and peers to find strength and support.
Jordan knows a bit about being isolated from what might be considered a “normal” teenage experience. His demanding training schedule doesn’t leave him much free time for hanging with friends, said his mom, Martha Moeller.
Jordan began skating when he was 4, after his mom said he got tired of watching his older sister, Erin, having all the fun on the ice.
“He hasn’t stopped since,” she said.
In 2010, he was the U.S. Figure Skating Intermediate Men’s national champion. Last year, he was the U.S. novice silver medalist.
He typically practices on the ice three-plus hours a day, six days a week. He trains in Crestwood as well as at an ice arena in Northbrook.
“His teacher once asked me why his handwriting was so bad,” Martha said. “I told her because he does his homework in the car on his way to and from practice up north.”
Martha Moeller said her son has always been a very caring person.
“He often thinks of others before himself,” she said.
So it’s no surprise that Jordan wants to give kids who have cancer an opportunity they might not otherwise have, she said.
COSI offers a variety of camp experiences for kids with cancer, including one specifically for kids with brain tumors and one for siblings.
The One Day at a Time summer camp, which costs $100 per week per participant, is often out of reach for families already burdened with big health care bills.
“So many people have helped me along the way,” Jordan said. That includes his former math teacher, Swanson, who organized a pizza fundraiser in January to help Jordan with training costs.
“This is a way for me to help those kids, to give back,” Jordan said.
In addition to showcasing Jordan’s title-earning skating skills, the show will feature synchronized skaters, and a skater who has Down syndrome.
Southwest Ice Arena is donating the ice for the event.