Parker Pennington pauses from skating for a good cause

Parker Pennington won’t be at the June 27 Skate for Life exhibition showcasing his jumping skills or performing the routine that had him sitting in third place after the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland earlier this year.

He will, however, host the charity event for muscular dystrophy with the reigning U.S. women’s champion, Alissa Czisny, and he will do as much as he can to raise awareness about the disease.

The Winterhurst Figure Skating Club product who trains with 1960 Olympic gold medalist Carol Heiss Jenkins is still recovering from off-season ankle surgery required after multiple sprains — including one suffered in the warm-up for his long program in the U.S. national competition. He won’t be ready to perform any electric jumps or complicated maneuvers on ice.

But Pennington — who has won national titles at junior, novice, intermediate and juvenile levels — is still holding the charity event in efforts to build on the $21,000 he raised last year for muscular dystrophy, a disease that affects his father.

“I thought it’d be great for the skating community and to expand awareness for MD,” Pennington said. “It’s a disease people don’t know a whole lot about, it often gets mixed up with MS.”

Muscular dystrophy is a progressive genetic disease that causes weakness in muscles that control movement. Pennington’s father, Larry, was diagnosed with the disease 10 years ago. Pennington called his skate at the MD benefit last year the “most emotional” of his career.

Aside from Czisny, others scheduled to appear at the exhibition include former national dance champions Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov, former U.S. silver medalist Tonia Kwiatkowski and Parker’s younger brother, Colin. The event at Hoover Arena in Strongsville also will feature a pre-show meet and greet with those performing, a live auction and after-show reception.

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