– Town Supervisor John Riordan and the North Hempstead Town Board paid tribute last week to a Great Neck family whose pre-teen son and daughter both brought home medals from the 2013 National Solo Ice Dance Championships in Colorado Springs.
Howard Zhao, 11 and his sister Sara, 12, came away from the competitions at the World Arena and Ice Hockey Complex this past September, with first and fourth-place medals respectively in the Pattern Dance Championship.
Howard became the first boy to win the National Solo Ice Dance Championship. Sara also placed sixth in the Combined Event. They both received Certificates of Recognition from the Town. Their parents, Julie and Michael, watched with pride as their children, who are home-schooled, took turns recapping their feats to the elected officials on the dais.
“We take great pride in honoring families like yours who in some way or other accomplish wonders during their every-day lives and in the process, enriching the fabric of North Hempstead,” Interim Supervisor Riordan told the family and onlookers at the pre-Town Board meeting reception on Nov. 19.
The Zhao family resides in the district of Councilwoman Anna Kaplan. She said of the accomplishment, “This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of these two terrific young athletes and their parents who have all made tremendous sacrifices to achieve this success.”
Howard and Sara made it clear at the beginning of their skating career that their ultimate goal was to make the Olympics, their mother Julie said. That’s why she drives them four hours round-trip to Monsey, a hamlet in the Town of Ramapo, New York for training and then to Hackensack, New Jersey, to a second training camp. She does this five days per week, Julie Zhao said.
Howard and Sara’s wins have made the family proud, she said, adding that “it’s a major step toward making their dreams come to reality”.
From left, Councilman Angelo Ferrara, Town Supervisor John Riordan, Michael Zhao, Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, Sara Zhao, Howard Zhao, Councilwoman Lee Seeman, Julie Zhao, Town Clerk Leslie Gross, Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio and Councilwoman Viviana Russell.