Susanne Mershon, left, presents Lanka Karunaratne with a volunteer award.
Susanne Mershon, left, presents Lanka Karunaratne with a volunteer award. (National Multiple Sclerosis Society Photo)
Thursday, March 9, 2006

Figure-Skating Pair Wins Gold Medal

Ice-skating duo Kristina Rexford, 9, of Silver Spring, and Michael Parsons, 10, of Derwood, won a gold medal in the prejuvenile level at the 2005 South Atlantic Regional Figure Skating Championship in Oldsmar, Fla., in October.

The skaters began training at Wheaton Ice Skating Academy at Wheaton Ice Arena in September 2003. Rexford and Parsons practice five times a week -- sometimes together, sometimes apart.

"They are very talented, and they are hard workers," said coach Alexei Kiliakov, who runs the academy. "They have very good natural abilities for skating, and I think they have a future."

Rexford is a third-grader in the French immersion program at Sligo Creek Elementary School in Silver Spring. Parsons is a fourth-grader at Lone Oak Montessori School in Potomac.

The pair plans to compete in the Cherry Blossom Invitational in Alexandria in late April.

Gaithersburg Man Wins Award for Young Workers

The Montgomery County Division of Workforce Investment Services in November named Gaithersburg resident Jon Hardy the 2005 Youth Participant of the Year for his work with the Youth Development and Research Fund, a for-profit training, policy and research organization aimed at disadvantaged young people.

The award, including a $1,000 scholarship, is given to individuals 20 and younger who have "overcome personal challenges to achieve goals in the workplace."

Hardy's father passed away when he was 11. Over the following six years, Hardy and his family moved four times before settling in Montgomery Village. His education suffered in high school, he said, and he almost didn't graduate.

"That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger," Hardy said. "These hardships really help you to grow up."

Hardy, 20, now works full time as a peer support worker at the fund, promoting education and experience to at-risk children. He also is a full-time student at Montgomery College.

For more information about the Youth Development and Research Fund, visit .

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