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Local skate dancers need your seasoned support

Our names are Madeline Heritage (16, of Beaverton) and Nathaniel Fast (19, of West Linn), a U.S. Figure Skating Junior Ice Dance couple that recently competed internationally representing the United States. As members of Team USA, we made our international debut in September at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Brisbane, Australia, where we placed fifth overall. Now that the JGP qualifying series is over, our international ranking is 24th in the world at the junior level. Our next goal is to qualify from the Pacific Coast Sectional Championships to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January with aspirations of competing at the 2012 World Junior Figure Skating Championships at the end of February.

This is our fifth season together. We have each been training for this opportunity for over 12 years and are fortunate to have been as successful as we have. Even rarer is the fact that we are successful Oregonians in this sport.

Since March of 2010, we have been splitting our time between San Jose, for coaching, and Portland.

Last year, 60 percent of our training was here at home, on our own with no coaches overseeing our efforts, and this year it will average out to 40 percent. Our desire to be better everyday is what motivates us to train 30-plus hours weekly on the ice and off the ice, live away from home for coaching instruction and travel to most events sans parents for the last four years.

The biggest obstacle we face right now is funding our training, and we are in urgent need of sponsorships to continue reaching our goals. Our families have dedicated their lives to helping us reach our potential, but we now need to reach out for community support. We understand that the economy is rough for everyone, which is why we do not expect any one organization or individual to sponsor us wholly and why we are looking for a 'village.' Our annual expenses exceed $70,000 a year and hope the community will help. We are in need of 170-plus businesses or individuals to participate in the $100 challenge by making a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible donation of $100 to our training fund. This would secure the necessary funds needed to help pay for training expenses through the rest of the season, giving us the opportunity to reach our goal of competing at the most elite level.

Donations may be made to our training fund by sending a check made payable to the New England Amateur Skating Foundation, Please leave the memo field blank and mail it to:

Madeline Heritage and Nathaniel Fast

P.O. Box 857

Beaverton, OR 97075

Once NEASF has processed the donation, a receipt will be sent to you.

We love competing and want to continue representing the USA! Any contribution afforded to us is greatly appreciated. Our website is www.heritage-fast.ice-dance.com.

Madeline Heritage is a Beaverton resident and Nathaniel Fast is from West Linn.