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Cameron Dwyer

The days surrounding Thanksgiving signal the start of the most festive time of the year. Choral groups and musicians stage shows of holiday songs and entertainment, communities come together for Christmas tree light-up nights and homes are lit in bright colors through the end of the year.

According to a news release, White Township Recreation is no exception. Annually, students and instructors of the S&T Bank Arena skating program turn lessons into rehearsals and present an ice show for the entertainment of families, friends and the community.

The yearly ice show, set for late Saturday afternoon, will be especially poignant for the skaters as they plan to dedicate the program and efforts in memory of Cameron Dwyer, whose daughter is part of the Rec Department’s “IPA Skate Team.”

Dwyer, 52, a disabled veteran of service in Iraq and Afghanistan, died of cancer in September.

Those on the recreation program staff knew him best as the biggest cheerleader for his daughter, Dezirae Dwyer, a skater and volunteer instructor for beginning skaters in the arena’s programs.

“Any given Saturday at the rink, during ice season, Cam was guaranteed to be there, cup of coffee in hand, munching on either popcorn or a pretzel, even being his own choreographer to the music that was being played on the ice,” said Stephanie (Clark) Vitalbo, the director of the township’s skating program, in the news release. “He was the guy that you wanted in your corner; he had a heart of gold and would do anything for anyone. His conversations were always welcome, and the rink was his second home. He is truly missed.”

Even as the biggest ice-skating organization in Indiana County, White Township Recreation’s program is like family to those who take part. From the “Learn to Skate” program’s beginners, to those advancing through the intermediate levels and to those specializing in figure skating and hockey skills, the skaters and their leaders have rallied together to assist the Dwyer family.

The ice show Saturday will be both a fundraiser and memorial, titled “A Tribute to the American Soldier: Remembering Cameron Dwyer — ‘Father of the Skate Team.’”

Vitalbo has extended an invitation to all present and veteran military service people of Indiana County to attend the show and honor Cameron Dwyer, who himself had been decorated as a hero during his service as an Army medic and security specialist for the military-based Blackwater company.

Donations will be accepted from those attending the program.

The hour-long tribute will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the national anthem. The skaters will perform to a playlist including “American Soldier” and “The Great Unknown” in their salute to Dwyer and the military personnel in attendance.

The skaters and their families will host a bake sale in a party room at the arena before the show. The bake sale tables will open again following the presentation.

Then the holiday-related festivities begin and the peak season for the S&T Bank Arena’s ice-skating rink arrives. The arena staff, coaches and instructors manage several levels of youth, scholastic and collegiate hockey competition, figure skating and hockey training and public skating sessions for the community. The arena soon will announce opportunities in December for kids to meet and skate with Santa Claus.

“Typically, the annual ice show is a way for us to welcome the holiday season, but this year, we are remembering someone that left us way too soon,” Vitalbo said.

Visit the Recreation Department website www.whitetownshiprec.org for more information.