Empowering Individuals with Disabilities Through the Art of Ice Skating in Central Florida

Daily Point of Light # 7787 Apr 10, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Terri Miskiv. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

In sunny Central Florida, inspired by her son and the volunteers on her team, Terri Miskiv passionately serves in leadership with Gliding Stars, a program designed to harness the power of ice skating for the physical, social and emotional growth of individuals with disabilities. For the past seven years, Terri has not only served as the driving force behind this impactful initiative but also profoundly touches the lives of dozens of athletes and volunteers each season.

Terri’s journey with Gliding Stars began out of a desire to share a piece of her northern upbringing with her son, who has an autism diagnosis and showed an interest in sports. Terri grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Florida. It was there that she casually stumbled on figure skating. This personal connection to the sport and her son’s enthusiasm laid the groundwork for her commitment to ensuring the program’s continued presence in the local community.

“My original inspiration was my son, who has an autism diagnosis,” Terri shared. “We were looking for athletics that he could participate in, and it was really challenging to find an inclusive environment. He’s a boy. He’s busy. He wants to do things. Finding sports that could accommodate him, especially five years ago or more, when there wasn’t necessarily the same level of conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion, was difficult.”

Terri Miskiv passionately volunteers with Gliding Stars, a program designed to harness the power of ice skating for the physical, social and emotional growth of individuals with disabilities.

Once Terri found Gliding Stars, she knew that she had unearthed a perfect fit for both her son’s athletic inclinations as well as her own level of involvement with a nonprofit. “It was an easy match-up for me to support the organization and also support my son,” she said. “My whole family participates in the volunteering, and it’s really become a family journey.”

As the director and president of Gliding Stars of Central Florida, Terri’s responsibilities are vast and varied, ranging from the organization and planning of the six-month season to leadership training and development. Her dedication ensures that each athlete receives training tailored to their experience level, fostering a safe and nurturing environment on the ice. These days, she is particularly passionate about volunteer appreciation.

“In the state of Florida, ice skating is not a typical sport,” Terri admitted. “Thus, there’s a smaller percentage of volunteers to draw from. So, it’s even more important that what we’re able to give to our volunteers – whether that be training, accolades, support – is valuable. We need them so specifically and we need their expertise so specifically. My highest focus right now is really our volunteer value and retention.”

Gliding Stars of Central Florida serves approximately 22 athletes per season, with a core group of 11 to 15 recurring athletes annually. The program also benefits from the support of 35 to 45 volunteers within the Central Florida area, providing them with valuable experiences and volunteer hours. Despite the significant cost of ice time and the lack of support from the ice rink facility, Terri’s leadership has steered the program towards sustainability and growth.

Still, Terri loves interacting with the families in the program. “Honestly, the most rewarding part of what we do as a group is the education for the parents that were in our program prior to or since the beginning, before myself,” she reflected. “Educating them that their athlete is able to move beyond just learning how to ice skate, that they can participate in competition, that they can participate with the United States Figure Skating Competition, at any rink or facility outside of ours… giving parents and athletes hope that there are options beyond the ice, is so rewarding.”

Terri is grateful to her team of volunteers and seeks to provide them with valuable training, recognition and accolades.

Beyond her work with Gliding Stars, Terri also leads the Central Florida HomeSchool Best Buddies group, fostering social engagement among individuals with disabilities. This collaboration extends the social component of the Gliding Stars mission. Through showcase events, fundraising initiatives and strategic partnerships, Terri continues to champion the cause of adaptive athletes, making figure skating an accessible and transformative experience for all involved.

“Everyone has a push for diversity, equity and inclusion,” Terri said. “I’m not sure people understand the effort that goes into it and making it a reality. I would encourage people who aren’t sure how to help: you don’t have to give an hour of your time every week. You can write a review on Google. Ask someone at work about a matching gift program. There are so many ways to support these causes.”

Terri’s volunteerism with Gliding Stars and beyond is a true testament to her passion, leadership and unwavering dedication to making a difference in the lives of athletes with disabilities. Her efforts not only provide unique opportunities for physical activity and social growth but also cultivate a supportive and inclusive community in Central Florida, setting an inspiring example of how sports can be a vehicle for positive change.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Terri? Find local volunteer opportunities.


Points of Light

We are champions of civic engagement with a mission to inspire, equip and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.