These days Allison Best is a very busy ten-year-old. She works hard at school, and loves skiing and the Girl Scouts. But by far, figure skating is her passion. Allison took her first skating lesson four years ago as a birthday present. It was like magic for her. She loved the graceful movement, the feeling of being free and flying over the ice. It was so effortless at first, she immediately excelled. It was as if she'd been doing it all her life.
Since then, she has gone from skating once a week to hitting the ice up to six days a week for at least two hours a day. It was obvious after her first competition that she also loved to compete. Although she is always nervous before a competition, the thrill of being on the ice all by herself and doing her very best is enough to keep her addicted and is a payoff for all her hard work. She usually gets a medal in these events (first, second or third place) and that in itself is also compelling.
According to her mom, Sally, there is no apparent difference between the health of Allison and other girls on the ice. Occasionally, Allison struggles with low energy when she's not feeling well. Last October, her allergies and asthma were interfering with her stamina and consequently, her mood. Once Allison accepts that her health is only temporarily compromised, she stops fighting her body and competing with her own full-strength ability. During these periods she has learned to just work at maintaining her current strength and getting better. She sometimes feels at a disadvantage because of her health, but compensates by reminding herself she is one highly skilled and competitive skater when she is feeling 100%.
In terms of school work, Allison somehow manages to get it all done and be on time for skating after her morning treatments (she sometimes rises as early as 5 A.M.) And she is a B+ student! Her mother, Sally, said that Allison could be an even better student, however in their family, health is the number one priority. If Allison spent more time on homework, she would have less time on the ice, and her parents feel certain that would mean a health decline. The daily aerobic workout, as well as Allison's own love of the sport and need to be healthy to compete, combine to keep Allison on top of her health.
Allison knows a few other girls who skate and who are also physically challenged, one with a heart ailment and several others who struggle with asthma. She knows she is not alone with her added health care routines and meds. She spoke to and befriended a 20-year- old female ice dancer with CF from Minnesota. Allison reported that this woman has been skating since she was five, has had no pneumonia since starting to skate and has had only five "tune-ups" in 15 years. She is obviously a strong role model for Allison, and her mom says she helps to keep Allison honest about the value of her skating and her health care. Relationships between youngsters and adults with CF are invaluable. Currently, Allison is working on her double loop and she wants to perform the double axel before she is 12 and go to the Nationals! Who knows? Be looking for her to glide across your TV screen in the not too distant future.
Return to Spring 1996 Index Page