Saturday, April 30, 2016

Patrick Chan (second from right) attended Terry Mark and Annette Long's wedding festivities in Elkhart, Ind., 16 years ago. He is pictured with cousins Nancy Chan, Nathan Farooq and Justin Farooq. (Terry Mark)

Patrick Chan of Canada competes in the men's team short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)

Patrick Chan (front) poses for a picture with other members of Terry Mark's and Annette Long's family in this Aug. 31, 1997, photo. (Terry Mark)
Sochi medal contender has enthusiastic set of fans in Elkhart

Posted on Feb. 11, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.

ELKHART — Let me tell you something about Patrick Chan.

If you've followed the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, you may have heard of him.

But Chan is more than just a gold medal contender for Canada in men's figure skating. Sure, he's a three-time world champion and has spent the last four years at the pinnacle of his sport after finishing fifth in the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

To my wife, Annette, and I, he's also Patrick, the 7-year-old boy who stole hearts at my wedding reception.

In 1997, Patrick and his parents, my cousin, Lewis, and wife Karen were guests at our reception in Elkhart. I didn't know Patrick or his parents well. We saw Patrick's grandfather — my uncle — and other relatives who lived in northern Indiana often. We were honored that he and his family traveled from Toronto. Seeing Patrick's parents made our reception a bit like a family reunion.

So what happened at the reception that so endeared Patrick to us? Patrick showed the confidence and charm that the rest of the world would see a decade later. He asked my mother-in-law to dance, and they did. Patrick may not have many fans in Ohio, but his biggest has to be Sally Emlong in Wooster, Ohio.

In 2010, we watched with pride as Patrick skated to a fifth-place finish. On Thursday and Friday, my wife and my daughters and my mother — Patrick's great aunt — will be glued to our TVs and rooting for the gold medal for which he has worked so hard.

Good luck, Patrick, from Elkhart, Ind.