Chris Biondo – 2018 Hall of Fame Inductee
In 1995, SABAH made a formative and lasting impression on a young sixth grader attending the Celebration on Ice with family friends. Chris Biondo was attending the annual show, back then in Buffalo’s “ Aud”, with the Frey family in support of SABAH athlete, Stephanie Edbauer. Deeply touched by the performance, Chris went home and wrote a letter to SABAH asking how he could help. Within weeks, Chris was going door to door in his neighborhood to raise money for SABAH’s Walk-a-thon. Over the next year, Chris began his journey as an off-ice volunteer for the organization, as well as volunteering backstage during the Celebration on Ice show.
Although very young, Chris quickly became entrusted with many of the volunteer functions at the Audubon Rink (subsequently the Northtown Center at Amherst) including handing out walkers and ice skates to SABAH athletes and checking in volunteers. Chris also volunteered backstage with his group from the Audubon Rink during the Celebration on Ice. By 1999, Chris was named the Day of Show Chairperson, a role that made him responsible for all of the back stage movement for the entire show. Barely in high school, Chris had the responsibility of moving nearly 1,000 athletes and volunteers from dressing room to the ice at their designated times and then back again for the grand finale. For anyone of any age, managing such a sizable number of individuals is a monumental task. As a high school student, it was nothing short of staggering that this young man had the maturity and capacity to adeptly manage over 500 individuals with disabilities and their volunteer partners under pressure and in rapid succession.
Since that time, Chris has not missed an ice show in 22 years. Although he has moved away from Western New York for his position as Corporate Director of Distribution and Project Development at Standard International, he faithfully travels back to Buffalo to volunteer for the Celebration on Ice show each year. Over the past decade or more, Chris has flown back from Providence, Rhode Island; Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; and now Austin, Texas. Chris states, “It is great coming back each year to see my ‘SABAH family’ including the athletes, volunteers, teachers, and staff and catching up with them all. SABAH has been such a big part of my life and it is great to see everyone each year. “
Chris also notes that the grand finale is his favorite part of the Celebration on Ice. “The finale is my favorite moment for each show. It’s the last big movement my team has to do and it can be a bit stressful to ensure that every athlete and volunteer is on the ice. But once everyone is out there, it’s great to see how happy, excited, and proud everyone is as they wait for the Balloon Drop.”
“We have come to rely upon Chris’s remarkable dedication and leadership for the Ice Show,” states SABAH’s Accountant, Sue Marchant. “Year after year, Chris willingly sacrifices his vacation time to come back to serve as our Day of Show Chairperson. Chris is so reliable that it would be easy to take his efforts for granted. But when we think about what he does, almost without us asking, we can’t help but wonder how we would get along on the day of the show without him.”
Not only does Chris offer his time and volunteer service to SABAH, but he also graciously donates to our annual Starlight Night Auction and Gala. Each year, Chris secures a stay in one of the stunning Standard Hotels, a highly anticipated item in the Gala’s Live Auction. Although he is already overwhelmingly generous of his time and resources, Chris also donates to the Annual Appeal each year.
While Chris humbly credits SABAH and his fellow volunteers for making him the person he is today, we are quick to acknowledge that SABAH is deeply indebted to Chris for more than two decades of serving our athletes challenged by disability. For his unmatched dedication and commitment to SABAH, we are honored to name Chris Biondo as our 2018 Hall of Fame Inductee.