NASHVILLE -- Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Scott Hamilton may be best known for his accomplishments on the ice, but it's his work in the fight against cancer that may have the most impact.
Hamilton has been a strong voice in the battle against the disease for decades, and he's partnering with the Nashville Predators and the NHL to continue to make progress in that fight.
Hamilton, a gold medalist at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics, will combine his love for skating and his passion for making a difference in the lives of people who have been affected by cancer by hosting An Evening with Scott Hamilton & Friends at Bridgestone Arena on Sunday to benefit the Scott Hamilton CARES (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship) Foundation.
The on-ice talent for the event will feature several well-known skaters, including Meryl Davis, Charlie White and Ekaterina Gordeeva. In addition, musical guests, including Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Sara Evans, Ben Rector and Rodney Crowell will be featured. It's a unique event designed to continue the fight against cancer.
"It's great to be able to pull the skating community together for something amazing and to have the Nashville music community come together at the same time," Hamilton said. "You've got phenomenal, iconic music artists performing live for the skaters, so it's really like nothing anybody's ever seen before, plus you're getting skating at a higher level than really has been in Nashville for over 20 years.
"When you combine the two, it's really indescribable. It's such a great feeling because the energy on the ice and off the stage, the way it combines, it's more than double. It's so exciting, and there's so much to see and feel. To know that everybody coming, the funds they buy their tickets with and everything they're doing is helping the next person facing cancer."
Hamilton believes the partnership with the Predators shows what can happen when people come together with a common goal.
"The Predators; it's just ridiculous how phenomenal they are," Hamilton said. "They're involved in every aspect of this city. Their marketing is incredible. The entire Predators organization has gotten behind this event, which was beyond my wildest dreams. Just to be able to collaborate on something like this that sets kind of the bar, and also shows people what can be done to bring people together to allow people that have won against cancer and lost against cancer to all come together and unite, and elevate a better experience and better outcome for the next person diagnosed."
Hamilton's life has been dramatically influenced by cancer, which is why he is so passionate about giving back. His mother, Dorothy, died of cancer when he was 18 years old. Hamilton was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1997 and with brain tumors in 2004, 2010 and earlier in 2016, a tumor he still fights.
His own story gives him the motivation to fight, and that what he wants to help other people accomplish as well, through the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation.
"You fight back," Hamilton said. "I lost my mother to cancer when I was 18, and then 20 years later I survived cancer. That's a weird thing to go through. When I lost her, I had to do something so I became a fundraiser. When I survived, I became more of an activist because I realized how many gaping holes there were in the cancer community. For patients to make the right decisions, they need the right information. They need to truly understand what they're going through. They need to be supported by somebody who's been there and done that."
Hockey Fights Cancer awareness nights throughout the NHL are important to Hamilton and millions of people who have been impacted by cancer in some way. The number of people being diagnosed with cancer is alarming, but treatments continue to improve, thanks to better education and medical advancements.
However, there still is a long way to go. Hamilton believes causes such as Hockey Fights Cancer can help give people hope, which might be the most powerful tool of all.
"It's hope, and hope is powerful," Hamilton said. "If you have hope, you can conquer the world. People coming in are going to hear about cancer, they're going to see cancer, they're all together and a community to do something great for people that are fighting for their lives.
"When you look at the statistics, one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer. That's alarming, so we've just got to make it better. We've got to make it better all the way around."