Shara Himmel died 21/2 years ago, but her memory dances on.
She is remembered for her smile, her love of life and children, and her passion for summer camp at the Kent Community Center in Clearwater as a participant and later as a counselor.
In her honor Thursday, summer campers and the larger community participated in the "Shake it for Shara" dance-a-thon. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., folks danced in the social hall at Temple B'Nai Israel in Largo, where the camp is now held.
Proceeds from the event will go to sponsoring campers who need financial assistance. The inaugural event last year raised $10,000, enough to pay the six-week registration fee for 10 campers and organizers hope to raise at least that much this year.
Himmel, a Seminole resident, had attended the camp at the Kent Community Center since she was 2 and later became a camp counselor.
"She was very selfless and somehow she just loved everyone and made you feel very comfortable, like you were her best friend," said Amanda Solomon, 20, a friend and fellow counselor.
In November 2007, Himmel died at age 19 from complications from a heart transplant. It was the second transplant of her young life. The first came at age 4.
"Two weeks after she received the second heart transplant, she was back at the camp, working," said Jeff Krieger, camp director. "I really think she felt every day was gravy for her. She put so much work and effort into this camp. She really was a role model."
Sabrina Sintes, 24, grew up with Himmel. The two met at the camp when they were 4 years old.
Sintes, now the assistant camp director, said Himmel didn't like being the center of attention.
"She was such an outgoing, energetic person," Sintes said. "The dance-a-thon is a way for us to bring closure and an upbeat way to remember and celebrate Shara's life every year."
Contact Demorris A. Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4174.