Olympic figure skating champion Dorothy Hamill will help celebrate the start the Holiday Season in the desert when she officially flips the switch on the 60-foot Christmas tree atop Gucci during the “MIRACLE ON EL PASEO” gala benefitting Bighorn BAM (Behind a Miracle) on Saturday, November 17 at The Shops on El Paseo.

Hamill, winner of the 1976 Gold Medal in Women’s Figure Skating, the 1976 World Championship and three US titles, has lent her support in the fight against breast cancer in the Coachella Valley as the honorary chairperson for this year’s “MIRACLE ON EL PASEO,” a Holiday-themed block party benefitting Bighorn BAM.

Referred to as “the Rockefeller Lighting Ceremony of the Desert, ” the annual gala closes one block of El Paseo to street traffic creating a Winter Wonderland complete with the season’s first snowfall, live music and an ice rink with skating by Olympic caliber skaters. This year, A MIRACLE ON EL PASEO will feature tastes and libations from the Valley’s top restaurants, special activities and a donation of percentages of sales at the many luxury boutiques found at The Shops on El Paseo.  The grand finale includes the arrival of Santa Claus and the magical illumination of the street’s Christmas tree by Ms. Hamill that can be seen for many miles throughout the Valley.

The shopping extravaganza is held annually at The Shops on El Paseo, the luxury retail and restaurant destination stretching one and a half blocks east from Monterey.  Bighorn BAM aims to raise money to provide equipment and support for women from throughout the Coachella Valley at the Lucy Curci Cancer Center at Eisenhower Medical Center.  Since its inception five years ago, Bighorn BAM has raised more than $x for the Lucy Curci Cancer Center and other local breast cancer programs including the Pendleton Foundation.

“We are thrilled to have Dorothy Hamill’s participation,” says Selby Dunham, founder of Bighorn BAM.  “Her spirit and courage inspire women around the world and in our community who have breast cancer, and those who are supporting a relative or friend with breast cancer.”  Ms. Hamill is a breast cancer survivor.

Ms. Hamill captured the Gold Medal at the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria at the age of 19. Overnight, she became one of those rare champions who transcended her sport and captured the country’s imagination. Still, she has said she is most proud of her World Championship title in Gothenburg, Sweden, which followed her Olympic win. At that time, everyone had advised her to retire from amateur competition, saying that even a second place finish would tarnish the luster of her Olympic gold. Characteristically, once she set her mind to it, she would not be dissuaded, and won.

As a professional, Ms. Hamill has hosted and skated in most of the highest rated TV Skating Specials in the history of TV.  Besides her own Specials she has skated with many of the leading music performers including Barry Manilow and Olivia Newton John. She won an Emmy Award for her lead role in “Romeo and Juliet.”

Ms. Hamill has been inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame and the Figure Skating Hall of Fame. She was very proud to run the torch into the Olympic Stadium in Salt Lake City in 2002 and skate the closing ceremonies with vocalist Harry Connick Jr.

She is involved with many charity organizations, including the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the International Special Olympics, Big Brothers & Sisters of America, the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, March of Dimes, and a variety of AIDS foundations.

Recently, Ms. Hamill released her memoir “A Skating Life: My Story,” which made the New York Times Best Seller List.

Stores and restaurants participating at The Shops on El Paseo include Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Escada, St. John, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Cos Bar, James Perse, Leggiadro, Stuart Weitzman, Optical Shop of Aspen, Chico’s, Soma Intimates, Theodore, Rangoni Firenze Shoes, California Pizza Kitchen and The Daily Grill.  Tickets are $100 each.  For more information and tickets log onto www.bighornbam.com or call 760.776.7126 ext. 1115.