Olympic star trading skates for dancing shoes

  • Evan Lysacek dances with his partner, Anna Trebunskaya, during Monday's episode of

    Evan Lysacek dances with his partner, Anna Trebunskaya, during Monday's episode of "Dancing with the Stars." Courtesy of ABC

Published: 3/25/2010 12:04 PM

Beyond his Olympic gold medal, beyond his spin on "Dancing with the Stars," Evan Lysacek is finding his newfound star power provides another, even more important, perk.

It puts him in the perfect position to help others.

On Monday, more than 70 fans filled a banquet room at Raffi's on 5th in Naperville for a viewing party of his debut on the hit ABC television show.

Attendees purchased tickets for the event, with all proceeds benefiting the Heritage YMCA's Strong Kids program, which helps low-income children participate in programs in Naperville, Aurora and Oswego.

Heritage Vice President Walter Johnson said the event was more about exposure for the Y program than anything else.

"It's a combination of two things: a way to have people contribute and have fun and also a way to meet some people who may not have known about the program," he said.

As he waited along with the rest of the crowd at Raffi's for Lysacek's TV appearance, Johnson talked about a chance encounter he'd had with the Neuqua Valley High School graduate.

His daughter took skating lessons at All Seasons Ice Rinks in Naperville when a young skater caught Johnson's eye.

"There weren't that many who were really good," Johnson said with a laugh about the talent level at the rink in those days. "But you could tell with that kid. He was pretty good."

Johnson said he lost track of Lysacek until he heard about a Naperville resident in the Olympics. When he did, Johnson said he had a sense of town pride take him over.

"To see somebody who basically cut his teeth on the same things our kids did, this is a kid who walked on the same streets, went to the same school district, he went to Ribfest, that's exciting," Johnson said.

When fans wanted to put something together for the dance viewing, organizer Nettie Badgley said they wanted it to benefit a local charity.

With Lysacek raising money during Friday's visit for a charity honoring a family friend, Badgley looked elsewhere.

"We wanted to do something for the community to celebrate Evan," she said.

As for Lysacek's performance?

"I really think what's going to happen here is he is going to see (Pussycat Doll) Nicole (Scherzinger) as competition and he's just going to really power through and come out a champion again," Badgley said.