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Fighting drugs on ice; First Lady Nancy Reagan and the ice dancing team of Olympic gold-medal winners Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean join forces in the war on drugs.


On a Sunday afternoon in November,ice skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean performed a charity benefit in Landover, Maryland, for Nancy Reagan's drug-abuse prevention efforts. It was a seriously good time--serious because of the cause, drug abuse; serious because of the security concerns for Nancy Reagan; and serious because of the level of skating performed that day.

After a brief awards ceremony,young children wearing "JUST SAY NO' T-shirts were greeted individually by Nancy Reagan. She kissed each one on the cheek and whispered something into their ears. She had a bittersweet look in her eyes, as if she were saying, "Thank you so very much for being drug free. I'm sorry we had to interrupt your youth to make you aware of the problem.' Sadly, it made me think of getting bad news first thing in the morning. The timing is useful, I suppose, because you then have all day (or the rest of a child's life) to address the problem. But unless there is hope it sure can put a damper on the day!

Offering hope to children is hugelysatisfying. I could see it in the eyes of the drug-abuse program directors Mrs. Reagan introduced. They are in the drug-abuse trenches. I have no doubt that the $150,000 raised at the event will be well spent. They and people like them represent the 99 percent perspiration that Thomas Edison said was necessary in any successful endeavor. Edison also insisted that one percent inspiration was necessary.

I'm not sure if it's really possible tomeasure the impact inspiration has on people. It means leaping out of bed to face your problems instead of being destroyed by them. That is why Torvill & Dean's performance was so precious. Looking back on it now it seemed to delicate and ephemeral. Together with their troupe they showed what rich and improbable inventions were possible by working together. The show was wonderful. The music, the costumes, the lighting, the choreography . . . it was all wonderful. The children enjoyed the fast numbers while the adults had their heartstrings thoroughly yanked by the subtle, romantic gestures of the slower numbers.

I could never be an objective judgeof skaters. To me their personalities are too entwined with what they do. Jayne Torvill is as poised and gracious as they come. She enjoys a sense of timing both on and off the ice. Both she and Chris seem to understand life and life cycles. I sensed that their own lives have been closely run and that they truly understood the importance of giving children a drug-free start.

After the performance there was asmall reception held at the arena's Capital Club. I heard the busboy tell the bartender, "Strange crowd--no one's eating free food.' That was because they all were waiting in line to meet the principals of the show-- Nancy, Jayne, and Chris.

Many of Washington's elitewere in the room. One of them remarked to Christopher Dean about how terrible policemen can be without remembering that Chris is a former policeman. The irony was not lost on Chris. He remarked softly, "I don't know; when I was a policeman, I usually only gave warnings.' He was surrounded by people, but I'm not sure anyone heard him. For an instant, I could picture Chris back on his beat in England, kindly chastising some wrongdoer. Today, he is a symbol to children everywhere of why it is important that they not abuse drugs.

All of us are obliged to brightenthe corner where we are. Torvill & Dean showed us how far you can go with this approach On a gray November day, even self-absorbed Washingtonians took note.

Photo: After performing a charity benefit, Torvill & Dean present Nancy Reagan with checks totaling $150,000, which she turned over to Tom Adams of the JUST SAY NO Foundation and to Joyce Nalepka of the National Federation of Parents for Drug-Free Youth.
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Author:SerVaas, Paul
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jan 1, 1987
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