Eugene and his wife have attended plenty of sporting events in town throughout the time their children grew up. People saw how hard the family worked and how great Sharon had become, so they wanted to give back to them, their friends said.
“They have a lot of friends, they are loved by a lot of people,” said Diane Bjelland, Costa Mesa’s track and field coach. “They have done a lot for the community. Sharon has put the school on the map. She is just a marvelous person, not just a great athlete.”
When most people in the area talk about Sharon, they do so with a smile and speak with pride. At Costa Mesa High, there have been well wishes seen coming across the electronic marquee at the school for the past month.
Joanne Krikorian, a close friend of the family, could not believe her neighbors would be staying at home while their daughter would be competing in the Olympics. Krikorian called Bjelland and others to help start the rally.
“It’s been phenomenal the way people just stepped up,” Eugene said. “We said we may or may not go. Then we had people saying, ‘we’ve got to get these people over there to give support to Sharon immediately. This is one great area in life, you represent your country.’ The people, they did a phenomenal job. We didn’t expect this.”
The Days don’t even attend Palm Harvest Church. Some of their friends do, like Kirk Bauermeister, the principal of TeWinkle Middle School and a former athletic director at Costa Mesa. Bauermeister also told his friends to donate money.
Yet even people outside of the community were also wanting to give money. A few people in San Luis Obispo, where Sharon went to college and competed at Cal Poly, also donated, Yolanda said.
“The Days have done so much for the community,” Bauermeister said. “This was a chance for everyone to give back.”
STEVE VIRGEN may be reached at (714) 966-4616 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.