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Donna Euston, 55, traded in her flight-attendant uniform for skates and shiny dresses that color a post-retirement hobby that has become a passion.
East County Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 4 years ago

Tropical Spice hits the ice

by: Josh Siegel Staff Writer

LAKEWOOD RANCH — At summer’s end every year for the past three years, Donna Euston, a retired flight attendant and Lakewood Ranch snowbird, leaves her Leawood, Kan., base to come here, to the ice rink.

She flocks to Florida earlier and earlier every year to join her teammates, a collection of women called Tropical Spice on Ice, an adult synchronized ice-skating team united by loss.

Tropical Spice will perform 4 p.m. Oct. 26, at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, in a show to raise money for breast-cancer research. Donations of $5 are suggested. Three of the group’s teammates died from the disease: Janeece Owen, 45, in 1996; Susan Evans, 60, in 2009; and Linda Spinale, 70, in 2012.

Another current member, Marilyn Pagni, survived breast cancer.

“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had someone impacted by cancer,” said Euston.

For Euston, the show, coinciding with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and benefiting the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Breast Health Center, inspires her to squeeze on bladed shoes two to three times per week, even when her legs are sore.

Five years ago, Euston started skating as a way to stay active.

She took basic skill lessons from Kelly Paige, Tropical Spice’s coach. She fell a lot, but Paige asked her to join the team.

“It was just something to do, “ Euston said. “People up North would say, ‘You are going down to Florida to ice skate? That makes no sense.’ Now I find myself spending more and more time here because of skating.”

A natural athlete — before her current routine of morning walks, water aerobics and, of course, skating, Euston played softball and Rollerbladed as a child — Euston soon learned spins, circles and jumps.

Not used to being the center of attention, Euston, nevertheless, began to embrace performances.

“I just try to smile a lot to cover my nervousness,” Euston said.

With Tropical Spice, Euston has competed in national competitions in Las Vegas and San Francisco.

“It will be a fabulous show and it’s an important one,” Euston said. “I hope it gets people excited about skating.”

Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].


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