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Sammy’s life remembered in


When Skate Company Skating Club ice show director Jennifer Campau planned the spring ice show last fall, little did she know how things would abruptly change with the loss of a cherished club member.

Sammy Sombati, 17, passed away from cardiomyopathy on Nov. 19, 2017. Sammy is the son of the club’s Learn to Skate USA Director Gail Sombati. He skated with autism as a special-needs skater.

Joyce Guo and Jessica Bussgang Rosenbloom

Guo receives fi rst Jessica Bussgang

Rosenbloom Skating Prize Synchronized skater Joyce Guo of the Lexettes is the inaugural recipient of the Jessica Bussgang Rosenbloom Skating Prize.

The scholarship is open to sophomores, juniors and seniors at Lexington High School in Lexing- ton, Massachusetts, who have pursued skating as a sport, and excelled academically.

Bussgang Rosenbloom is a U.S. Figure Skat- ing judge, a former competitive skater at the Hayden Recreation Centre, and a 1982 alumna of Lexington High School.

She acted on creating the scholarship after see- ing a post on Facebook about a Lexington High School classmate who had died and a scholar- ship that had been set up in her name.

“I thought, ‘Gee, I don’t want to wait until I die,’” she said in a story that appeared in the Lexing- ton Minuteman newspaper.

“Within a matter of weeks, I had wired the funds, fi lled out the paperwork and advertised the award criteria,” Bussgang Rosenbloom said. “I received a really nice selection of applicants, but one stood out, and that was Joyce.

“You embody all I hoped for in creating this award,” Bussgang Rosenbloom said in present- ing the scholarship. …“You carry an exception- ally challenging academic load, and juggle it all with ease. The way in which you have navigated the demands of your course selection and your travel and commitment to your skating team makes you so deserving of this recognition.”

By creating this award, Bussgang Rosenbloom hopes to “encourage, motivate and mentor skaters who are ambitious, driven, and strive to not only to succeed, but also make the world a better place.”

She hopes to have an even bigger candidate pool next year, with the goal of awarding multiple scholarships in the future.

“Honestly, we had a diff erent theme already started — about a week after Sammy’s passing — but my heart was so heavy I felt we needed a way to celebrate all that Sammy meant to so many of us,” Campau said.

The show was held April 20–22 at the Lincoln Park Community Center in Lincoln Park, Michigan. It was titled “Rewind” in honor of Sammy’s love of DVDs.

Campau chose songs from DVDs Sammy most enjoyed, and to honor his parents Gail and Doug. Selections from “Frosty the Snowman,”Finding Nemo and “SpongeBob SquarePants” were part of the show along with Hocus Pocus, to honor the family’s love for Halloween.

Former U.S. medalists Grant Hochstein and Caroline Zhang participated in the event.

“We are so grateful to Grant and Caroline,” Sombati said. “Grant is originally from this area and I totally asked him on a whim. We worked it out and they skated in our Saturday and Sunday shows. They not only skated solo performances, but also put together a pairs program for this show. It was a beautiful program to ‘Ave Maria’ in honor of Sammy.”

The show included numerous special moments, all honoring Sammy’s memory. Both Sombati and her husband skated in the parents’ number to “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Sombati skated to Rachel Platten’s “Stand by You”; she was supposed to skate for just one performance, but skated in all four.

“I dedicated it to Sam and my husband Doug,” Sombati said. “It was a thank-you to those who stood by me through these diffi cult months and letting them know I will do the same for them.”

Campau and the skaters also surprised Sombati on show night with something special in loving memory of Sammy.

“To begin our show, we had a moment of silence, but many people didn’t realize we had set up a section in the bleachers where Sammy always sat as a memorial spot for him, and as the moment of silence went on we had a spotlight on his seat,” Campau said.

Sammy Sombati was a regular at the local rink in Lincoln Park, Michigan.

Gail Sombati with Grant Hochstein and Caroline Zhang

“As for the actual performances, the skaters performed their hearts out. The love and support for Gail and Doug was overpouring and more than I could ever imagine when I had the vision to honor Sammy.”

Sombati is certain Sammy would have loved this special show in his honor.

“It was incredible,” she said. “I really wish the show wasn’t dedicated to him because that would mean he was still with us, but it was beautiful. One of the things I’ve learned through grief counseling and therapy is to do things that would make Sammy smile. This defi nitely would have made him smile.”




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