For years Evan Lysacek has been involved with helping others through benefit shows and appearances. But his latest charitable effort was a little more personal to Lysacek. That's because An Evening of Hope was a show he co-organized as a benefit for the Stephanie Joseph Memorial Fund, along with Make-a-Wish Foundation of Illinois. Lysacek grew up with Joseph in their hometown of Naperville, Ill. Joseph, an accomplished youth figure skater, died of a rare form of cancer in February. "We actually started skating on our roller blades on my driveway before we were even good at skating on the ice," Lysacek said. "We'd just goof around all the time. She was the type of person that loved to give back to the community. We wanted to continue that passion of hers through this memorial fund." The fund's board of directors -- which includes Lysacek's mother, Tanya -- came up with An Evening of Hope, which drew more than 2,000 people Saturday night to the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva, Ill., just up the road from Naperville. It brought together some of the world's top skaters, as well as some talented local skaters for the two-hour-plus show. Among the headlining stars were Kimmie Meissner, Jeffrey Buttle, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.
The cast also included Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, Brooke Castile and Ben Okolski, Shae-Lynn Bourne, Jennifer Robinson, Ryan Bradley and Dan Hollander. Susie Wynne, who also knew Joseph, served as the evening's emcee. "When I wrote them a letter and told them what this organization meant to me, and what the show is benefiting, these are the people who were the most excited about it," Lysacek said, adding the skaters donated their time. "We had a real natural decision process for who the cast would be."