The Shannon Lemieux Memorial Meet Grand Finale
By Kathleen Reynolds
The 17th Annual (and final) Shannon Lemieux Memorial Aquatic Meet will be held April 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Vintage High School Pool. Participants in the meet will come from American Canyon, Justin-Siena, Napa, St. Helena and Vintage High Schools.
“All the proceeds from the event go to the Shannon Lemieux Memorial Scholarship Fund, benefiting all Napa County High Schools,” says Dan Lemieux, Shannon’s father. “It’s been extremely successful since it started in 2005. We’ve raised about $500,000 so far and are pleased that all the money raised will continue in the Scholarship Fund.”
“We want everyone to come out and see the kids. It’ll be a fun day,” continues Dan. “There’ll be fun relays, not timed – costume relays, cannonball contests, and the Marin Synchronized Swimming Team, which used to be the Redwood Empire Synchronized Swimming Team, will be there giving a demonstration.”
“We have a great Silent Auction lined up, and everyone will enjoy it. Local restaurants and wineries have been wonderful, spas and golf courses have contributed. You couldn’t find a more generous group of people.”
Shannon passed away after a car accident in 2005 at the age of 17. She’d been active in dance, beginning at age four with the Napa Regional Dance Company. When she started at Justin-Siena High School, she took the skill and grace of her dance training and applied it to swimming and diving. She was named the most improved swimmer in her freshman and sophomore years. Dan and his wife Lori wanted the scholarship to mirror Shannon’s interests.
“The first Memorial Aquatic Meet was organized by her coaches and teachers at Justin-Siena, where she’d been a Junior,” says Dan. “Mike Garibaldi was instrumental starting the aquatics meet and the first year it was held at Napa Valley College. I have to say, I had doubts at first that something of that magnitude could be pulled off. Our family was still in shock and not much use to them. But we realized the positives outweigh the hurt. The Meet continues on with everybody on deck having a great time.”
Applicants for the scholarships must complete a short essay application on their philosophy of life. “Shannon wrote a beautiful essay on that subject when she was in school, so we thought it was appropriate. They must maintain a 3.0 GPA and have spent three years either on swim team, diving or water polo teams. The scholarships are $500 each, which are made out to their chosen college, 4-year or community college, trade school or any qualified school.”
So far, the group has awarded 263 scholarships, amounting to $163,000. The balance between what they make on the fundraiser and the auction goes into the scholarship fund.Since it’s so successful, why is this the last year for the Memorial Aquatic Meet?
“We are all volunteers. Basically, except for a few people who had to drop out for various reasons, we’ve had the same Board since 2005,” Dan says and chuckles softly. “It’s a year-round project, making and reviewing the applications, designing and distributing fliers, getting permits and awards, collecting auction items and writing thank you letters. COVID put a damper on our efforts, and we didn’t hold the event for a couple of years for everyone’s health. That’s when we decided it was time to reevaluate. Frankly, we’re all getting older.”
“When we started, our aim was to establish an ongoing scholarship fund and we’ve reached that goal. We hope perhaps the Memorial Meet will continue with others leading it.”
“We have a tremendous amount of gratitude to our local community and the wineries, restaurants, spas and golf courses. They’ve been so generous and we’re grateful. We thank everyone involved. We’re glad it is a lasting scholarship fund. But this Shannon Lemieux Memorial Aquatic Meet Grand Finale will be bittersweet.”
Shannon Lemieux Memorial Aquatic Meet | April 2, 2022 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Vintage High School Pool. Admission is $5.00 adults: $3.00
For further information about the event and to contribute to the ongoing scholarship fund, call (707) 255-7818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.