Linda Althof: “Our Shining Star”…
Written by Marsha MacKinnon, First Covenant Webmaster
On most Monday evenings in the fall and winter, First Covenant Deacon Linda Althof laces up her skates and takes to the ice. She is joined by other skating volunteers who serve as skating guides for persons with disabilities, many of whom have never been on ice before. Linda is the volunteer Director & Coach of The Gliding Stars Adaptive Ice Skating Program in Erie. “I have been a professional figure skater in the Erie area for the past 40 years. Mr. Jack Schultz, whose grandchildren I coached, approached me 19 years ago and asked if he brought GS to Erie would I be the director and coach. Of course I said yes and the rest is history,” said Linda.
First Covenant Elder Pat Tracy is one of the volunteer skating guides for this adaptive skating program. Pat is the volunteer Creator & Director of the Sunday Supper program and Linda is a regular volunteer for Sunday Supper and Our Neighbor’s Place Overflow Shelter. Pat nominated Linda for the Mercy Center’s Women Making History honor. Pat says “Linda Althof is the ultimate volunteer as she puts her faith into practice by helping others. She runs Gliding Stars of Erie, an ice skating program for children and adults with special needs, she volunteers every week at Sunday Supper, a free meal served at First Presbyterian church of the Covenant for those who are homeless or in poverty and food insecure, she is a frequent volunteer at Our Neighbors’ Place, a seasonal homeless shelter, and she is a deacon and an usher at church. Linda does all of this in addition to her full-time job as an educational assistant in an elementary classroom for students with autism. Her enormous heart for others and her bubbly, positive attitude makes Linda a true blessing to others,”said Pat.
Every year the Mercy Center for Women recognizes women in the Greater Erie community who are dedicated to helping others, committed to women’s issues and has the courage of her convictions. Ironically, Pat actually nominated Linda for the 2018 Women Making History honor but since the awards evening was the same evening as the 2018 Gliding Stars Ice Show, Linda told them she had a previous commitment. She was honored this year on March 6. Linda is firmly committed to her skaters and her beliefs.“I believe that it is very important that the Gliding Stars do a public event, creating the venue for people with challenges to stand up and be acknowledged for their accomplishments. This show reminds each of us every year of the triumphs of our skaters, the overcoming of enormous obstacles, working hard, never quitting and inspiring us with their courage and determination. Every person with a disability needs and deserves to be accepted by their communities,” said Linda.
On Saturday, April 6 participants in the skating program present the 2019 Gliding Stars Adaptive Ice Show at the Mercyhurst University Ice Rink. Local musicians in The Breeze Band are rehearsing to present live Motown classics as dozens of handi-cap-able skaters and their guides demonstrate their skills on ice. Linda and her skating volunteers, which also include her daughter Kristi and granddaughter Makayla and Andrew Spriegel, are ready for a fun night of celebration. Nationally acclaimed skaters Max Aaron and Doug Razzano are the featured skaters on April 6. The show begins at 7:00 p.m. at the Mercyhurst University Ice Rink. Tickets are available now at the church office at First Covenant during regular business hours. Join our cheering section for this fun event.Tickets are $10 adults and $5 children.
As one of this year’s class of Women Making History, those selected offer inspiration to others. Linda says she is the one who is inspired. “Every person with a disability needs and deserves to be accepted by their communities. They have so much to share. This builds understanding and compassion making us all better human beings. My skaters inspire me soooo very much!,” said Linda
Portrait of Linda provided by Paul Lorei Photography Studios