Hundreds are rallying around the family of a 20-year-old college gymnast who died after suffering a spinal cord injury in practice .
Melanie Coleman, who attended Southern Connecticut State in New Haven, suffered the injury on Friday, Nov. 8 and died two days later. She was reportedly practicing on the bars at the time she sustained the spinal cord injury.
Following her injury, friends and family members set up a GoFundMe campaign that saw an overwhelming response from the community. In less than three days, the fundraiser had more than $65,500 in donations - more than six times greater than the $10,000 goal.
“As a former gymnast and a family of gymnasts, I pray for your family and friends to always have you in their hearts. Say hi to my brother upstairs,” one of the donors posted.
Another said “Sending our deepest condolences to the Coleman family. You all are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”
A junior at Southern Connecticut State, Coleman had previously attended Jonathan Law High School in Milford, where she was an all-state selection in gymnastics.
"We are heartbroken and stunned by Melanie's passing," head coach Mary Fredericks said. "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.”
Coleman's longtime personal gymnastics coach, Thomas Alberti, described the incident as "a complete accident,” adding that, “it’s just not something that anybody can process.”
The support for Coleman and her family extended to social media, where an Instagram post announcing her death received more than 51,000 likes.
“I am sorry to hear of Melanie's passing, and my thoughts and prayers are with the family as they mourn and celebrate her life,” one commenter said. "Tragedy can strike when we least expect it, and I am glad to see so many rallying to help her family at this time!”
Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe fundraising campaign for Melanie Coleman can do so here . A second page that coordinates meal donations that can be sent to the family through MealTrain.com can also be found here .
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