Celebrating Mimi 

Whistler Gymnastics honours coach

Every kid in town has been a student of Mimi's at one time, either as a participant in one of Whistler Gymnastics' programs or as a student at an elementary school taking a gymnastics workshop during phys-ed.

Those students will remember that she was funny and animated and never held back when she was teaching. She could take a group of 18-month-olds and keep their attention long enough to teach them skills - then build on those skills from week to week without ever making it seem repetitive.

She remembered her students' names and knew who was related to whom.

She gave her students little gifts to go with holidays and for their birthdays, little things that her students cherished.

She would sing, even if she didn't have much of a singing voice. She could move and was known to do the odd handstand - even as her own shape deteriorated after a car accident several years ago.

Mimi, lesser known as Myriam Benn, was a part of the town and almost every childhood.

And that was just part of her life. In Pemberton, she also coached gymnastics and did some work for community services.

Years ago as an employee of the Whistler Employment Resource Centre she helped people to find jobs. More recently she was hired by the school district to assist with special needs students.

Tami Mitchell moved to Whistler in 1999 as a gymnastics coach and has worked with Mimi for all of that time - except for the brief time that Mimi went to work for a gym club in Richmond.

"Mimi was the loudest cheerer in our club and always had a way of making each kid feel special," she said. "A lot of her kids have gone far in gymnastics and in other sports and she had something to do with that. She was always really positive and helped build self-confidence in a lot of kids."

Mitchell said that in every class there was at least one kid who would run up and hug Mimi, and Mimi lived for those hugs.

"No matter what her day was like, she just couldn't wait to get to work. She loved kids and the sport of gymnastics. She left some pretty big shoes to fill."

Mimi passed away on Aug. 20 while visiting her family in Ontario. She was just 52 years old.

To honour her contributions, Whistler Gymnastics will be holding a Celebration for Mimi Sunday, Sept. 19 at 4 p.m. at the new Oros Whistler Gymnastics Centre in Cheakamus Crossing. Friends and students of Mimi are invited to come out and remember Mimi as the fun and caring person that she was. There will be a guest book on hand for people to place photos and tell Mimi stories. Anyone with digital photos is asked to send those photos along to tpro@telus.net by end of day Thursday for a presentation by some of her former gymnasts.

Mimi's family has also asked people not to send flowers, but to make a donation to Mimi's FUNd at Whistler Gymnastics. The money will be used to bring the Kids Can Move gymnastics program to schools.

Donations of $100 and over are eligible for a charitable tax receipt, directed through the National Sport Endowment Fund.



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