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Late S.C. Local Inspires Student Teachers' Charity Event

The CSUF "Block 85" Student Teacher Group brought the San Clemente community together with a charity event, benefiting the family of San Clemente local and fitness professional Elaine Gjonovich.

Live music poured from Monday night, as a crowd gathered around the restaurant’s doors for a charity event benefitting the family of the late San Clemente local and fitness professional, Elaine Gjonovich.

Inspired by the life and memory of Gjonovich, , and armed with the message to “pay it forward,” 15 student teachers from the Cal State University Fullerton's Block 85 Student Teachers group organized this charity event to raise funds for the Gjonovich family.

The charity event called for a $5 donation at the door for a night of cheese, wine, and live music. Patrons were also encouraged to participate in the raffle.

Earlier this year after learning of Elaine Gjonovich’s battle with liver cancer and her efforts to promote health and fitness, the group, also known as Educators for Elaine, chose to raise funds in support of Gjonovich’s business, —a program aimed at improving “the health and fitness of adult men and women.”

Only two days after deciding to sponsor the program, Gjonovich succumbed to the disease and the group shifted their focus toward raising money to defray the family's medical bills.

Erica Lyons, a member of Educators for Elaine and neighbor to the Gjonovich family, was the one who suggested helping Gjonovich to fufill their group’s philanthropy goals, hoping to inspire others to pay it forward. 

“Knowing that we can come together to help a local community [is important to us]," Lyons said. "We hope that this inspires [people] to do the same.”

South Orange County local, Lisa Giammalva learned of the event through Facebook and attended with a friend.

“I love that the venue has pulled together music, wine, and friendship all for a good cause,” she said.

Elaine Gjonovich’s husband, Richard Gjonovich, said he was "blown away" by the continuous generosity displayed by the community. 

"The San Clemente community always seems to come together and support one another," Richard Gjonovich said. “Thank you on behalf of myself and my family. [The San Clemente community] has been like Jesus to me."

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