A fresh-faced girl, frozen in time, smiled in the Langley Events Centre’s concourse last weekend.
The school portrait of Christy Fraser, taken not long before her death, shows Christy wearing a red sweater that matched the colour of her thick, wavy hair and the freckles dotting her cheeks and the bridge of her nose.
E. coli poisoning cut Christy’s life short on Aug. 5, 1992.
She’s forever 12 – and her spirit lives on through the annual gymnastics competition that bears her name.
The Christy Fraser Memorial Invitational marked its 23rd year at the LEC this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, attracting more than over 650 athletes representing clubs from as far away as Kamloops and Powell River.
A big part of the meet was Christy’s mom Lory, a founding member of the host Langley Gymnastics Foundation (LGF).
During the event, Lory acknowledged gymnasts who embodied Christy’s spirit and sportsmanship. They were judged for cheerfulness, on being a team player, and on how they comforted teammates if their routine didn’t go quite as well as planned.
“I look for that,” Lory said. “I look for smiles, because then I know that they’re cheerful and they’re happy and they want to be there.”
A former LGF member, Christy was remembered as a dedicated gymnast who had the ability to overcome adversity with a cheerful smile and a “try again” attitude.
Upon Christy’s passing, a memorial fund was set up in her name, which not only funded badly needed equipment for BC Children’s Hospital, but also contributed to the LGF.
The funding is used to purchase some of the equipment used by LGF athletes today.
“This July she would be turning 36,” said Lory, who reminisced about her daughter and how much she supported her teammates.
“She was cheerful, she was a team player – she would be the one comforting someone who was upset… she would kind of slough things off and carry on.”
Christy’s gymnastics career started at the age of seven with the Langley Flash (LGF’s earliest incarnation) and continued for another five years before her death.
She had a natural inclination for gymnastics.
“She was very articulate,” Lory said. “The beam was one of her strongest pieces of equipment. She was the first athlete in the club to do the back walkover [on beam].”
A slideshow projected on the overhead scoreboard shows a slideshow – created from photos contributed by Lory – from her daughter’s life.
“I get emotional when I watch it,” Christy said.
The inaugural memorial meet was held in January 1993, just six months after Christy’s death.
“We’ve gone from having 30 athletes to 650 today, and there’s been more than that when it’s trials,” said Lory, who’s on the event’s coordinating committee and is in charge of hospitality and athlete food.
“I’m overwhelmed. It’s an exhausting weekend for me but it’s a good exhaustion.”