- “Early this morning, we said our final goodbyes to Thuy,” the GoFundMe update reads. “Heaven welcomed a spunky shredder to a place with no skate blocks – and all of us gained a very hardworking Guardian Angel in our corner, who will never sleep on any of us.”
- Nguyen passed away after a 15-month long battle with stomach cancer that had metastasized to her colon.
- Nguyen is survived by her husband Shawn Connolly, her parents Peter Thinh Nguyen and Tinh Thi Tran, brothers John and Tan Nguyen and a sister, Jolynne Nguyen, SF Chronicle reported.
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- “I have seen Thuy’s name all over the city and I’m heartbroken to hear she is no longer with us,” Isaac Steinmetz, one of the donors in the GoFundMe campaign, wrote. “I always smile when I walk by SFSC, thank you Shawn and Thuy for investing in the city’s youth.”
- A private Catholic service will be held for Nguyen’s family, while the SF Skate Club will host a social distanced memorial for the educator at Ocean Beach on Dec. 12 at 4 p.m.
- Raised in a Vietnamese community in Costa Mesa, California, Nguyen was accepted to the University of San Francisco’s five-year master’s of education program and later worked as a teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District.
- She also worked for Friends of the Children, a nonprofit organization that is no longer in operation, until 2006. Nguyen met her husband Connolly, a professional skateboarder and a bartender at the Milk Club on Haight Street, during her time at the organization.
- Nguyen and Connolly later moved to an old Victorian at Eddy and Broderick where they lived rent-free in exchange for operating as a youth center. They would tutor children and offer afterschool programs in art and cooking. She later decided to quit her job to focus more on their organization.
- The couple leased the SF Skate Club space in 2007 and started it as a summer camp. They also bought a 15-seat passenger van from Craigslist to take their students to skate parks in the Bay Area after noticing many of her students were interested in skateboarding.
- Although the name says Skate Club, the organization also covers other activities, such as knitting, filmmaking, cooking and art. It also acts as a homework club.
- It also operates a full-service skate shop that sells decks, wheels, trucks and other hardware and custom merchandise designed by Connolly.
- She kept a notebook of names, writing down the people close to her on the cranes and hanging them up. Nguyen continued to write down the names of those who donated to her on the birds she folded for hours.
- Nguyen felt free and strong on a skateboard, believing in the strength and connection of the community. She also believed that women needed to have a voice.
- “People start connecting across their differences and realizing that they have a lot of other things in common,” she said.