Friends set up scholarship to remember dead hang glider
Published Thursday, May 3, 2012 7:35PM PDT
Friends of the young woman killed in a hang gliding accident on Saturday have launched a scholarship to remember her social conscience and passion for sustainability.
The Lenami Godinez-Avila Memorial Fund at Simon Fraser University is already accepting donations so people can find a positive way to express their grief, according to friend Katherine Louman-Gardiner.
"She was a bright and caring, charismatic person and we miss her terribly," Louman-Gardiner told CTV News. "She loved contributing to the community around her."
Godinez-Avila – known to her friends as ‘Lena' – and her boyfriend David were planning to celebrate their anniversary by going hang gliding in Chilliwack. But somehow Godinez detached from the hang glider and plunged 300 metres to her death as her boyfriend watched.
"I was devastated. I thought of her partner. I was extremely upset for him," Louman-Gardiner said.
She said it's been upsetting for everyone to hear how the case has taken a turn for the bizarre – the hang glider pilot, Jon Orders, sits in jail, accused of swallowing a memory card that may contain video of what happened. Police are still waiting for the video to reappear.
"It's such a shame," recalled Godinez-Avila's former SFU professor Anil Hira. "She was just starting out, she was extremely successful, someone who walks on air, very light-hearted but extremely capable. It's the last person you would want to see this happen to."
Godinez-Avila moved to Canada in 2003 from Monterrey, Mexico. She studied at SFU and then took a job with the B.C. Winter Games Secretariat. That turned into a full-time job at the B.C. Ministry of Environment.
"By all accounts, Lenami was well known in government and clearly a bright light," recalled Environment Minister Terry Lake in a tribute at the legislature this week. "I can only imagine the unspeakable grief that her parents and family must be feeling today."
She also volunteered for the Vancouver Food Bank, was a cyclist and played ultimate Frisbee. Louman-Gardiner said she was quiet but brilliant – and even a little mischievous.
"She loved doing new things, and when you least expected it snowshoeing, she would pelt you in the back of the head with a snowball, and there was Lenami, giggling away," Louman-Gardiner recalled.
Godinez-Avila had wanted to help other Mexican women succeed as she had in Canada.
"It was something she had expressed in her life to her partner," said friend Katherine Louman-Gardiner. "She was hoping to create a scholarship fund for students who hailed from Mexico – hard workers, really dedicated to her community."
Donations will be accepted at www.rememberinglena.com.