OBITUARY

Shannon Nicole Elmer

January 5, 1985December 29, 2020

Shannon passed away peacefully in her sleep on Dec. 29, 2020. She was born in Burnaby, BC and lived most of her life in New Westminster, BC. She will be lovingly remembered by her parents, Ken Elmer and Janet Neufeld, along with her brother, Jonathan. Relatives include Auntie Merian, Uncle Neill and cousins Christie, Tila and Kerry together with their families; Great Aunt Irene, Great Uncles Dale and John and their respective families. Also included are her many Baergen and Neufeld cousins. Many friends will also miss this vivacious young woman who loved people and who found friends wherever she ventured - in school, sports, work and travel. This includes Pickle the cat who was her soul mate for the past 2 years.

Shannon attended New Westminster Secondary School and in her senior Grade 12 year was the only girl in the school’s history to play 5 senior sports ( soccer/ basketball/ volleyball/ track and field/ cross country.) She was awarded “outstanding athlete” every year from Grade 8-12. Shannon attended UBC on a track scholarship and was a starting/scoring member of the cross country team in every meet during her 5 years at the university. She finished 6th in the Sun Run 3 times, ran in the North American/ Central American Championships in the Dominican Republic and competed in the World Mountain Running Championships in Turkey.

Shannon auditioned for the reality show, Wipeout Canada and qualified. Over a week she competed in Buenos Aires and finished 5th out of 20. She then toured Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru for 6 weeks on her own meeting up with her parents in Lima. Machu Pichu was the next adventure and then it was back to UBC for her teacher training year. Shannon was an excellent snowboarder who continued to challenge herself on the toughest runs at Whistler and Blackcomb. On April 11, 2015 Shannon was standing at the side of a run when she was hit by an out of control skier breaking her back at the C5 level. She was helicoptered to VGH and doctors did not expect her to survive the night.

Shannon fought for her life those next few weeks in ICU and eventually was transferred to GF Strong which is noted to be one of the best rehab centres in North America. She worked very hard there and was determined to return to teaching elementary school children even as a quadriplegic. The last 3 years she received contracts from Vancouver School Board for afternoon classes only as she now required morning time with her care aids. She loved her primary classes and the kids loved her as well.

Shannon travelled to over 60 countries in her life. She taught with her dad in Egypt for 6 months and then journeyed to Vietnam and China to also teach and explore. Always she kept in touch with parents and friends. Sometimes paper napkins arrived “snail mail” style giving a personal touch with her handwriting informing you of the latest crazy thing she was doing.

While travelling the world Shannon would often research and taste the most popular dishes from that country. Upon return she began creating meals that always made it exciting to be present at her table. If you weren’t there - she would send you several photos and you’d wished that you had. In later years, when she physically wasn’t able to cook, she would still instruct her care aids and ask friends to help out. She never lost her excitement about food and often her international care aids would be happy to show her some of the foods from their country.

She always had projects going - including making and selling pesto and salsa ! Still, she managed to volunteer at one of the Vancouver Food banks one day a week.

Shannon’s favourite place to travel was Lindell Beach on Cultus Lake. A cabin was purchased in 1985 and together with her brother and friends had many adventures and water balloon fights. Even after her accident she loved to be driven out and spend time with some of the residents she had known over the many years.

She loved the water and was so happy to discover a specialized kayaking programme that she could participate in these past few few summers. The location was on False Creek, just a quick chair “zoom” away from her Gastown condo. Upper body workouts were her forté and two years ago she set her own personal record of forty times on the water with family and friends in a 2 seater kayak!

In life she was an Earth Angel who cared, loved and helped the many that she knew but she also reached out to everyone. She always had a spark to her life but the last 5 years this changed to a flame that displayed strength and determination in always wanting to do her best.

Shannon has earned her wings. She is pursuing her many passions of running, snowboarding and water sports. Shannon would have been 36 years old on January 5th and so her wings “blew” out her candles. She lives on in our heart.

The family wishes to thank the many many friends for their love and support. Also, a heartfelt thank you to the medical teams of physicians, nurse/practitioners, nurses, OT’s, PT’s and care aids who have assisted in creating a better life for Shannon.

We miss our brilliant, vibrant, crazy sense of humour, precious Shannon. Sweet dreams my Sweetpea / Monkey. La la salamma. 💕

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to support the GF Strong Rehab Centre/Spinal Cord program , in memory of Shannon Elmer at VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Donate at vghfoundation.ca/shannon-elmer, by calling 604-875-4676, or by mail to VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, 190-855 West 12 Ave, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9.

Memories

Shannon Nicole Elmer

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Sherena Cheraki

January 22, 2021

Shan and I became friends during her travel and stay in Egypt. We had an instant connection. We traveled together , ate together and just enjoyed eachothers company. She loved the sea and diving, so we went to Sharm El Sheikh, where she and my husband spent hours diving the red sea. We always stayed intouch and always had plans to see one another but sadly could never get to it,. I will truly miss her and miss her fun and adventurous spirit, nothing slowed her down.. Not only was she fun to be around but also she had a beautiful heart! You will be truly missed my dear friend. Till we meet again and I promise I will try to at least snorkel with you!

Natasha Nassiroghli

January 22, 2021

My sweet Shannon came to my life when we were working at Moxies. She was the most energetic, outgoing and loving coworker. We became friends right away and she pushed for me to work at RedBull which she had just started too. She set up an interview for me and next thing you know we were working two jobs together! We had a blast at both places but RedBull is really where we had the best memories and fun moments.

We both loved to travel and share stories ( she was a much better writer than I am) so she would write me letters everywhere she went and I would just share stories on the phone.

A very vivid memory is when my ex went traveling (Feb 2007) and Shannon knew I don’t like being home alone so she’d invite me over and make me the best soup and salad; I can still taste both. I went back almost everyday and she cooked lovingly and happily every time. That’s when we became much closer. Spending all those days together.

In the recent years, she was the source of positivity and grace in my life. She was on my mind everyday and anytime I felt down or wanted to complain I would think of her strength and positivity. I remember telling her that once. I remember telling her that when her friends complain to her she must feel some level of annoyance over how minor their issues are ( me included) and she looked at me and said, “I never feel that way because everyone’s minor problem is big to them”. I just nodded and went home and cried for hours that I can’t fix her problem.

Shannon is the most loved person and her strength, positivity and love for everyone will live forever. Love you Shan!

Siana Mills

January 21, 2021

I don’t actually recall when Shannon and I became friends, but I look back on that time and she was always there. Whether it was on the playground, soccer field or in the principals office.
One thing I do know was Shannon was one of my best friends. We shared so many memories together, from track meets to weekends at her cabin floating down the Bonnie River on tubes, skinny dipping at night or running away from security guards when you take a short cut through a golf course. There was never a dull moment when you were in her company.
After graduation I moved North and we lost touch. It wasn’t until after her accident when we reconnected and I got see how brilliant she really was.
Her indomitable spirit was such an inspiration. She showed me the true meaning of living completely with love, laughter and good friends.
In true Shannon fashion she has brought people together. I hope to honour her memory and all ways keep people close and value friendship as she did.

I will miss you my darling friend.

Susan Northey

January 19, 2021

I know Shannon via the track & field / cross country world. Shannon was an incredible athlete. Shannon’s beauty, fluid stride, and tenacity made her a favorite of mine to watch in action. Shannon was on a few teams that I coached including the NACAC 2006 Dominican Republic. Shannon was racing in the 10km when part way through the race the sky opened and there was a torrential downpour. Shannon had her game face on and won the silver medal. After the race she entertained us telling a tale of how the pounding rain had caused the cockroaches to scramble to the surface of the grassy infield. A few of them had jumped up and hitched a ride on Shannon’s legs for a lap or two…not something she enjoyed. Funny, none of us watching had any idea this was happening, all we could see was a focused, determined Shannon racing for a medal.
Shannon inspired. Shannon made a difference. Shannon will forever be remembered.

Lexie Karn

January 18, 2021

Shan, I will miss your fun loving spirit. I loved seeing photos of Pickle and bonding over our crazy cat lady status and sharing stories about what shenanigans the fur kids got into . You truly touched so many lives all around the world and will be very sorely missed. Sending love to your family, you are in our thoughts.
Love,
Lexie, Sean & Gumbo

Piper Hayes

January 18, 2021

Shannon made the world a brighter more vibrant place. Times spent with her meant taking risks and extreme silliness. She never balked at an opportunity to stretch a boundary or try something her way. She was the loyalist of friends and when I think of her I think of laughter and joy.

I got to train with Shannon for two years on the UBC track and X teams. We've stayed in touch since and share 16 years of friendship. When together we were inseparable, gettin up to the most ridiculous things. I have many unforgettable memories with Shan, but one that stands out was in Dublin, Ireland back in 2005. We'd travelled through Europe with some of the UBC track team all organized by her Dad. We had a blast throughout, but the night we spent in Dublin we were told not to take the night bus home. Well I don't remember the exact reasoning, but I do remember that if Shan was told she shouldn't or couldn't do something it became a strong likelihood that she would. And I pretty much was always game for these kind of shenanigans. We sung and danced down the midnight streets, pub hopping. Getting men to buy us drinks and then disappearing into the crowd. Two young up to no good wild travellers.

When the time came to head home we didn't take a cab or call our hosts we took the night bus. We had no map, no cell phones as you might today, we just followed our noses. I remember getting off at a stop and crossing a stone fence and then a large grassy field to finally miraculously reach our destination. I don't know how but with Shan we always found our way home...and to cereal. I remember eating chocolate squares with nutella inside. Some brand we didn't have back home. Which reminds me of a NYE in San Diego whereby the next day our entire hotel room floor was covered in cereal.

Shan you brought so much love to so many people. You continually reminded us how we can live, full of life. Thanks for being my friend in this time round the universe. I love you with all my heart.

Courtney Naesgaard

January 18, 2021

Shan I will miss your crazy stories, sense of humor, and super human powers. I will always look up to your strength and lust for life. Sending love ❤

Mila Coad (Zvijerac)

January 17, 2021

Shannon and I first became friends in elementary school at Herbert Spencer. I can’t remember when we first met but what I do remember is that we were inseparable all throughout school and she was one of my best friends. In elementary school, we participated in every sport that we could at our school, including volleyball, basketball and track and field. Some of my fondest memories were being a part of our amazing 4x100m track team (pictured below) with Shannon being our anchor, along with Mollie and Siana being the other key players. She was a natural athlete and was always the one to bear especially when it came to running.
When we weren’t at school or playing sports, we spent the weekends together with our other friends, or going to each others cabins. At Cultus we were either playing in the water on the jetskis and tubing or bugging Jonathan. At Sun Peaks we were either watching movies in our basement or skiing in the trees. We had a lot of fun together.
Our friendship carried on through highschool and University where we both attended UBC. Although we grew apart over the years, we always had a special place in our hearts for each other.
Shannom was such a special person to me and many others. Since learning the unfortunate news of her passing, I have been visiting old photos and memories, and reconnecting with old friends. I know that wherever Shannon is, she is smiling and doing backflips over the fact that her light continues to shine in us all. Rest well, Sweet Shan.

Grace Wong

January 17, 2021

I met Shannon a few years ago, she was a member of our Polar Plunge team, when she arrived at the beach on those wintery chilly mornings, the sun would shine brighter. Her smile, charisma and energy could light up the world, Shannon was beautiful inside and out. Rest in peace beautiful angel.

Christy Smith

January 17, 2021

As kids, Shan and I were close in the way cousins were. As we grew up, though, we truly got to know each other. Shan was travelling the world and would email me about her adventures, and I would tell her about my classes, knowing she had plans to come back and do teacher training. I remember being envious - and proud - of her travels: she had the courage and the passion to go anywhere and everywhere, and she made friends easily.

She was also up for anything. When Uncle Ken was teaching in Egypt, my sister Tila and I decided that it would be a perfect time for a visit. When I heard that Uncle Ken was making plans for us to spend Christmas in Dahab, I decided that I really wanted to climb Mount Sinai to watch the sunrise.

Tila had less than no interest in that, and I wasn’t going to do it on my own, so I reached out to Shannon. She didn’t hesitate.

We were so excited to go that we went over the plans and checked the contents of our backpacks multiple times. Water, check. Snacks, check. Blankets, check. Camera, check. Confident we had everything we would need, we climbed on the bus.

And then we climbed off the bus and looked at the very dark, unlit mountain we were going to climb TO SEE THE SUNRISE and looked at each other, equal parts embarrassed and freaking out ... it hadn’t occurred to us that FLASHLIGHTS might also be useful.

Luckily, Shan had made friends on the bus with very kind travellers from the UK and Syria, who offered to share their light with us. (This was especially kind because although Shan ran up mountains for fun, I was not particularly in mountain-climbing shape, so they had to hold their pace to mine.)

That experience remains one of the best (and most amusing) of my life - though travelling to Austria (again, with Shannon - she features in some of my most entertaining travel stories) is a close second. But that’s a story for another time.

I miss you, Shan. Thank you for being an amazing cousin and a incredible friend.

FROM THE FAMILY