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Vigil in remembrance of Danielle Gucciardo marked with fond memories, dancing

Students come together to sign a poster on behalf of Danielle Gucciardo, a 2011 CMU alum and Peace Corps volunteer, during a candlelight vigil held by the The Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center in memory of Gucciardo Wednesday night outside of the Charles V. Park Library. Gucciardo died Saturday from injuries resulting from being struck by an automobile in Uganda. Gucciardo, 23, had been a Peace Corps volunteer since January 17. During that time, the Woodhaven native worked in Gulu, Uganda, where she taught chemistry and biology. (Victoria Zegler/Photo Editor)

Students come together to sign a poster on behalf of Danielle Gucciardo, a 2011 CMU alum and Peace Corps volunteer, during a candlelight vigil held by the The Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center in memory of Gucciardo Wednesday night outside of the Charles V. Park Library. Gucciardo died Saturday from injuries resulting from being struck by an automobile in Uganda. Gucciardo, 23, had been a Peace Corps volunteer since January 17. During that time, the Woodhaven native worked in Gulu, Uganda, where she taught chemistry and biology. (Victoria Zegler/Photo Editor)

Danielle Gucciardo’s vigil Wednesday night was one full of remembrance and celebration.

The Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center held the vigil in front of the Charles V. Park Library, and at the end, turned on the song “One More Time” by Daft Punk, encouraging everyone to dance, candles in hand.

It was the most fitting way to remember Gucciardo’s life, which was full of dancing.

Gucciardo, a 2011 Central Michigan University alum and Peace Corps volunteer, died Saturday from injuries resulting from being struck by an automobile in Uganda. Gucciardo, 23, had been a Peace Corps volunteer since January 17. During that time, the Woodhaven native worked in Gulu, Uganda, where she taught chemistry and biology.

While at CMU, Gucciardo worked with the Mary Ellen Brandell Volunteer Center on alternative breaks for three years and served as a site leader on various programs.

Lakeshore senior Laura Trombley was once with Gucciardo on an out-of-state volunteer trip, when at 3 a.m., something spontaneous happened.

“It was three in the morning, and the Spice Girls come on, and she just started singing at the top of her lungs and dancing,” Trombley said. “It wasn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, especially to the people sleeping in the back, but it was the coolest thing I have ever seen. It was three in the morning, and she didn’t care. She was dancing to Spice Girls.”

Kathryn Young, a Muskegon graduate student, said that dancing was Gucciardo’s way of living life.

Bellville junior Rachel Dybicki dances electronic dance music during a candlelight vigil in memory of Danielle Gucciardo's Wednesday night outside of the Charles V. Park Library. The song "One More Time" by Daft Punk was played during the closing of the vigil encouraging everyone to dance as a way of remembering Gucciardo's life, which was full of dancing. (Victoria Zegler/Photo Editor)

Bellville junior Rachel Dybicki dances to electronic dance music during a candlelight vigil in memory of Danielle Gucciardo’s Wednesday night outside of the Charles V. Park Library. The song “One More Time” by Daft Punk was played during the closing of the vigil as a way of remembering Gucciardo’s life, which was full of dancing. (Victoria Zegler/Photo Editor)

“I think Danielle would just dance whenever anything bad or awkward would happen. Even when it was just quiet,” Kendall said. “It was just her way of breaking the ice.”

Kendall said at the vigil that she often imagines Gucciardo dancing her entire way to class while she was at CMU.

Gucciardo graduated from CMU in December 2011 with a degree in biology and environmental studies. Residence Hall Director Steely Pegg, who moderated the vigil, said environmentalism and nature were some of her greatest passions, and she wasn’t afraid to proclaim herself as a “tree-hugger.”

Daniel Breitenbach, a White Lake senior, said her greatest passion, though, might have been dinosaurs. He recalled another instance on volunteer trip, again in the middle of a long drive.

“We drove past DinoLand,” Breitenbach said. “She flipped.”

Pegg said she found Gucciardo’s ability to make any negative situation into a positive situation to be inspiring.

“Something I always admired about her was her ability to smile,” Pegg said. “And her ability to make lemonade out of any lemons, no matter how sour they were.”

Debi LeSage, a Canton resident and girlfriend to Danielle’s father, Joe Gucciardo, said they both found the ceremony touching.

“It was a celebration of her life,” LeSage said. “It was moving to see it touch so many people. I really think she’s up in heaven dancing along.”

5 Comments

  1. How touching. This article summed up Danielle to a “T”. She loved dancing, she loved dinosaurs, and she really could make lemonade out of even the sourest of lemons. Good job capturing this, Ryan.

  2. Cheryl Taylor says:

    My daughter Danielle was the brightest star in my life. I can not imagine my life without her. Please pray for her sisters and parents. and then dance for Danielle.

  3. HollandKaas says:

    Danielle was one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. I still can’t believe that this horrible truth from Uganda is a reality. I’m so happy that her friends remembered her like this.

  4. Prayers and love to the family I cannot imagine what you are going through. She was an amazing person it sounds like I don’t know her personally.

  5. Maria Leone says:

    I knew Danielle for many years and she was one of my best friends. We were also roommates for 2 years at CMU. I’d like to share a poem I delivered at her memorial this past weekend.

    I have always been so good with words, but for once I’m at loss as what to say.
    For it’s so hard to believe someone like you had to go away.
    You lived a life at 23 that many only dream
    There must have been a higher plan that needed to be seen.

    A teacher you had grown to be, and so much did you do.
    So maybe that is why you had to go, even though it’s far too soon.
    Little souls need someone wise to help them flourish and grow.
    So maybe it’s the good people like you that have to show them so.

    It’s hard to think that I will never see your face or hear your laugh again.
    But I will smile at any chance someone says remember when.
    And though we have all now experienced this tragedy, when we think of who you were and always will be
    Your life is a happy memory.

    So goodbye for now, but I won’t say for good.
    For one day we’ll meet again, and dance just like we should.

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