“She always had a smile on her face and was just a fun person to be around.”
That is how Julie Gilfillan remembers childhood friend Christy Fraser.
They were best friends and competed together with Langley Gymnastics Foundation (LGF).
Fraser was 12 years old when she passed away in 1992 after contracting E. Coli.
Following Fraser’s death, LGF began the Christy Fraser Memorial Invitational meet and this weekend (Feb. 15 to 17 at Langley Events Centre), will mark the 26th year of the competition.
That first year saw about 170 athletes competing in the gymnasium at Langley Secondary while this year’s version is set to feature more than 650 gymnasts from 25 different clubs across B.C. with some coming from as far away as Alberta.
Athletes range in age from five to 17 and compete in recreational, provincial and elite levels.
“Christy is remembered by all who knew her as a dedicated gymnast who possessed the ability to overcome adversity with a cheerful smile and a ‘try again’ attitude,” reads the program.
In addition to competing for gold medals in their various disciplines and categories, the athletes will be vying for some special awards as each year, Christy’s mother Lory Fraser – who is still involved with LGF as a volunteer – handpicks a dozen or so specific award winners.
She chooses the one who embody the same mannerisms and attitude of Christy – most supportive, determined and displaying a positive attitude – which will be engraved on the base of the trophies.
“It is all about their attitude. Christy was the one to always give another girl a pat on the back or a word of encouragement,” explained Fraser.
Assisting her most of those years in selecting the award winners has been Gilfillan.
“It is fun to look at the athletes today and find someone who has that same passion for gymnastics that Christy had,” Gilfillan said.
“She was just fun and fair, and determined, especially in gymnastics. She loved gymnastics so much, and for her it wasn’t to be perfect, it wasn’t to be the best. Sure, she loved to train and to practice and all that kind of stuff, but it was more about the fact she loved being there, she loved competing, she loved being part of a team.
“She would always cheer on her teammates and be supportive, keep her chin up if things didn’t go well.”
In addition to the competition, there will also be vendor booths and concessions available on site. As well, there will be several silent auction prizes available for bidding.
Proceeds go to LGF, which is a non-profit organization with more than 2,000 athletes.
The event will be held at the fieldhouse, in Building B at the Langley Events Centre.
It gets underway Friday at noon with an interclub performance.
Weekday admission at entrance gate:
Adult (18-plus): $12
Family (four maximum): $25
Youth and seniors (7-17 or 65-plus ): $6
Children six and under: free.
Weekend admission at entrance gate:
Adult (18-plus): $20
Family (four maximum): $40
Youth and seniors (7-17 or 65-plus ): $10
Children six and under: free.