Even though she's been cancer-free for 11 years, Carolyn Bongirno keeps up her fight against breast cancer, said Patrick Higgins, a friend who nominated her for the Jefferson Award.

Even though she's been cancer-free for 11 years, Carolyn Bongirno keeps up her fight against breast cancer, said Patrick Higgins, a friend who nominated her for the Jefferson Award.

Bongirno -- who grew up in Clintonville, graduated from Bishop Watterson High School and now lives in Powell -- established Skate for Hope, an annual figure skating show that raises funds for breast cancer research.

WBNS-10TV received 112 Jefferson Award nominations, director of community affairs Angela Pace said. The top five winners were to be announced at a ceremony today (Thursday, April 1). The award winners will be featured on the 2010 Jefferson Awards special that will air on 10TV at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 24.

The awards "recognize individuals who do extraordinary things in their communities without expecting a reward," a press release said.

Skate for Hope is entering its seventh year and has raised $233,000 for breast cancer research, Bongirno said.

The event features performances by more than 100 figure skaters from central Ohio, said Higgins, who is a board member of Skate for Hope. In addition, the cast has been joined by Olympic, world and national champion skaters.

"It's a positive event focusing on the survivors and using the art of skating to empower girls to look at the bright side and know they can do something to fight the disease," Higgins said.

Bongirno, 44, fought breast cancer when she was 33 and has been cancer-free since.

A skater for 33 years, she said she was greatly affected by young skaters she knew.

"They would talk with me about their mother, teacher, grandmother, aunt -- people they knew with cancer -- and I could see how scared and powerless they felt when a cancer diagnosis touched one of their loved ones. I wanted to do something to empower children to better cope when a cancer diagnosis enters their lives," said Bongirno of her impetus for starting the event.

"I'm extremely impressed with her determination to use her unique skill and aptitude and her connections in the figure skating world to do something significant to raise funds to fight the disease," Higgins said. "Her goal is to fund breast cancer research until (the disease) is obliterated."

Bongirno's years as an amateur competitive skater provided her with a number of contacts in the field. Also, through her work as senior manager at the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, Fla., in the 1990s, she had learned a lot about professional sports and event management, she said.

Bongirno said she's excited about this year's show and the "headliners" who have signed on to perform. They include: Rachael Flatt, 2010 Olympian and national champion; Emily Hughes, 2006 Olympian; Emily Samulson and Evan Bates, 2010 Olympians; Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, 2008 and 2009 national champions; Ryan Bradley, 2010 World Team member and U.S. silver medalist; and Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin, U.S. national and international competitors, said Bongirno.

Skate for Hope is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at Nationwide Arena. For information or to purchase tickets, visit the Web site www.skateforhope.org or call (740) 917-9105.