A college gymnast in Connecticut died Sunday after suffering a spinal cord injury during a training accident two days earlier.
Melanie Coleman, 20, was practicing on the uneven bars Friday at Southern Connecticut State University’s New Era Gymnasium in Hamden, according to the Connecticut Post, when she was injured and taken to the Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Nearly 1,100 people have raised over $50,000 on a gofundme page to help Coleman’s family.
“We are confident that her spirit, laughter, and humor will live on through the ones who loved her most, as well as through the gift of life to those who needed it most through organ donation,” the Coleman family wrote in a statement published by WTNH-TV. “We are humbled by the outpouring support from our Milford community (our small town with a big heart) and beyond. She will be sadly and deeply missed by all those who crossed paths with her. The family asks for privacy during this time of healing.”
Coleman had been employed at New Era during high school. Her coach, Thomas Alberti, had hired her to coach and host birthday events at the gym.
“To know her was to like her,” Alberti said. “She was a role model all our students could look up to.”
Alberti coached Coleman for 10 years, usually four to five days per week. He also coached her two older sisters, Valerie and Tiffany.
Coleman was a three-time All-State selection and captain of the 2017 Jonathan Law High School gymnastic team. She was accepted at Southern Connecticut State University where she was a junior studying nursing.
"We are heartbroken and stunned by Melanie's passing," head coach Mary Fredericks said in a post on SCSU's website. "She was an incredibly hard worker and a sweet-spirited young woman. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to her family at this time. The SCSU Gymnastics team will miss her greatly though she will always be with us."