Dutchman’s Pizza in Gilroy was packed with the late Lynn Shimek's friends and teammates, who showed up at the pizza parlor for a fundraiser hosted by the South County Derby Girls for Shimek’s two sons.
Shimek, 43, who joined the Derby Girls in February, Nov. 27 in her Gilroy home. Authorities say her husband, Chris Shimek, killed her and then shot and killed himself.
Kimberly Merrill, president and captain of the local roller derby team, said proceeds from the event would go to Shimek’s children, Forest, 19, and Skylar, 13, for living expenses and personal needs.
Merrill, who goes by the derby name “Lucy Stars,” said her teammates loved Shimek and were moved to do something to help when they heard of her death.
“I feel like I lost a best friend; she really was the sweetest person you’d ever meet,” said Merrill. “When we heard of her death, we knew right away that we had to do something for Lynn’s boys.”
Jim Shuster, owner of Dutchman’s, donated 25 percent of Sunday’s sales and 100 percent of calzone sales to the cause.
The derby team raffled off more than 50 prizes donated by local businesses and friends—from jewelry to gift baskets to a kit for face-painting, something Shimek loved to do. The team also auctioned 10 Christmas trees to raise money.
According to Merrill, roller-derby teams from Hollister, Morgan Hill, San Jose, Monterey and Santa Cruz all donated money, raffle prizes or went to the fundraiser Sunday to show support for one of their own.
“We all came to support this club,” said a member of the Silicon Valley Roller Girls who goes by the name of “Stevie Knickers.” “It’s totally family here.”
Among the silent auction items was a free photo session with Whitaker Portraits and an autographed Cleveland Browns jersey signed by NFL quarterback and Gilroy native Jeff Garcia.
Attendees heard Christmas carols from the music choir of Anchor Point Christian School.
Derby Girl Vice President Lisa Wharton, who also goes by the name “Smashin’ Smeesha,” said Sunday’s event was originally going to be the team’s Christmas party, but the group decided to change the celebration into a fundraiser after Shimek’s death. Now they plan to host a fundraiser every year around Nov. 1, which was Shimek’s birthday.
”Lynn was so sweet,” said Wharton. “She was the sweetest skater on the team. She was 100 percent supportive of us.”
While the Derby Girls have learned a lesson about standing up to domestic violence in Shimek’s case, Merrill and her club said they see their team as a family and valuable support system.
“Sometimes girls don’t make the best decisions when it comes to dating, and this club is a place where they can go to get support,” said Merrill.
Team treasurer Karen Clements echoed Merrill’s remarks about domestic violence and said the sport of roller derby is meant to empower women.
“Derby is about value, support, and is the only place where it is safe to hit a woman,” Clements said.