“He was just such an amazing individual,” said DanceWorks company owner Lisa Mara about dancer and friend Gerald Obah, whose remarkable life was cut short in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 12, by a fatal car accident on the Belt Parkway. “When something like this happens, people want to give back. That’s who he was, someone that inspires. That’s how the GoFundMe page came about.”
Last week, after the accident that took Obah’s life, colleagues, family and friends launched a GoFundMe page dedicated to the dancer’s memory and dance career called the Gerald Obah Legacy Fund. With donations pouring in over the next few days, the page hit and surpassed the goal of $20,000 aimed at covering funeral costs.
From Ellicott City, Maryland originally, the 27-year-old Obah, who had attended Syracuse University, was the type of person to run through the entirety of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” choreography to entertain his co-workers at a holiday party. He is constantly referred to as a pillar in the dance community, an enthusiastic and talented performer, and beloved by his company and friends for his positive and adventurous attitude.
Mara and DanceWorks Director Betsy Moran set up the page for all the dancers, family and friends of Obah who had reached out to ask how they could help honor him.
Maura Dougherty, one of the donors and a friend from work, met Obah 11 years ago. Dougherty said, “I can’t say I’m not angry at the poor decision that led to the sudden loss of my friend, but I’m much happier to know the chaos and heartbreak his family is experiencing and will continue to experience during these coming days and years will be just a little bit easier with his arrangements being covered.”
Aleh Sheipak, 50, the driver of the SUV that collided head-on with the car Obah was in, was going the wrong way on the highway near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the time of the accident. He was arrested and charged with, among other things, vehicular manslaughter, vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated. The investigation is still ongoing.
The fund, having achieved its monetary goals, continues to grow but organizers have yet to determine what they want to do with additional money that is raised. Mara said she hopes it can be donated to organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving or used in support of male dancer education in Obah’s name.