Friends and family of Jaime Whelan, a Long Beach native who died in a tragic accident five years ago, keep her memory alive each year with a fundraiser that provides assistance to local students and families in need.
This year’s fundraiser will be held at The Beach House, 906 West Beach St., on Sept. 22, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The donation is $50 per person, which includes four hours of open bar and appetizers.
This is the fifth year the fundraiser is being held, raising a total of more than $200,000. The proceeds go toward scholarships for graduating students from Long Beach Catholic Regional School, who will be attending Sacred Heart Academy.
Whelan lived in Long Beach for 26 years before she moved to Manhattan, having attended both schools. Her parents, Jim and Susan Whelan, remain Long Beach residents.
This year, the Jaime Whelan Foundation Fundraiser also has been geared to assist families in financial need in Long Beach, including one family who could no longer afford tuition to the private Catholic school.
Whelan, 30, was an account executive for TeleRep, a television advertising sales company. On Oct. 12, 2007, she was on a business trip to Buenos Aires, being rewarded as one of the top sales people at her company, when she was killed in a tragic accident.
The following October, her family started the first fundraiser in her memory.
“It’s a great way to memorialize her life,” said her brother, Joe Whelan, 31. “It’s a way to keep her memory alive while continuing to help families in her honor.”
The foundation has given out about $120,000 in scholarships to students and funds to families in need, he said. The graduates receive a total of about $26,000 a year in scholarship money, he added.
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He said his family members choose the recipients after evaluating their applications and interviewing the graduates.
“We look for those who embody Jaime in memory, personality and joy for life,” he said.
He said Long Beach Catholic’s principal, Veronica Danca, has been instrumental in the scholarship process.
Holding the fundraiser is also a way to help her family and friends cope with her tragic loss, Joe Whelan said.
“It helps keep her memory fresh not only for her family and friends, but also for the community,” he said. “We’re humbled every year by how successful it’s been.
“She was very outgoing and full of life,” he said of his sister. “She was a pleasure to be around. She had a smile that would light up the room.”
The foundation has already provided Long Beach Catholic graduates with more than $70,000 in scholarships to Sacred Heart Academy, Danca said.
“It is a beautiful way to remember Jaime,”
Danca said of the fundraiser. “It’s a beautiful act of love and charity and we are extremely grateful to the family to honor her memory in this way,”
Danca, who has worked at the school for 33 years, the last 15 as principal, described Jaime as “a wonderful student who had a very outgoing personality. She was always full of joy and was a leader. No one could forget her. She was an absolutely beautiful soul.”
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