Harris Halperin’s memory continues to motivate Ardsley High School students to help others.
The high-spirited Halperin, who would have graduated in June 2019, passed away in March 2018 from a rare type of lymphoma. In his honor, the Student Council’s #HHStrong team is again participating in the nationwide Light the Night Walk fundraiser benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The team’s Walk, on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., will be held on the school’s six-lane running track.
The team’s campaign, its fourth, also honors those who have survived cancer, are still fighting it, or were lost to the disease.
“Last year’s Walk, in October, was at Playland Park [in Rye],” student council president Mac Weinhouse, a senior, said on Oct. 6. “The school had 30 people there. We walked down the boardwalk with lanterns.”
Covid-19 changed everything.
“We’ll be 6 feet apart. We’ll definitely enforce people wearing masks, and make sure people are appropriately distanced,” Weinhouse stated. “I don’t think it will be a problem. Guidelines will definitely be enforced.”
“I think we’re going to walk for an hour, nothing too extreme,” he added.
As of Oct. 7, online private donations to the team had surpassed its $2,000 goal.
The team is captained by guidance counselor Erica Hezi, and includes Weinhouse, art teacher Stephanie Rosen, students Aaron Chu-Carroll, Allie Fein, Morgan Fodiman, Isabelle Kellezi, Courtney Lesser, Alec Levi, Ethan Levine, Maya Levine, and Zach Rosenberg, and former student Joseph Goldstein (AHS 2019).
Last year’s national Light the Night campaign consisted of 140 nighttime walks by approximately 1 million people in the U.S. and Canada. Each walker carried an illuminated lantern symbolizing the society’s mission, as stated on its website, “to bring light to the darkness of cancer through research and cures.”
Leukemia and lymphoma survivors carried white lanterns, supporters carried red ones, and those walking in memory of loved ones lost to cancer carried gold lanterns.
“It was a really beautiful night last year,” Weinhouse said. “It was a great experience to get to be a part of it… We were really excited to bring it back, even though it’s going to look different this year.”
“We worked hard to see if we could have the kids do this live instead of virtually,” Rosen explained. “The school is allowing us to do this… LLS was happy we were doing this.”
Rosen is proud of the fact that AHS students take initiative. “Half the time the students bring it up to us that they want to support a specific cause, and we say ‘Yes.’ It’s more meaningful because we can honor one of ours, our own alum.”
Weinhouse sees the school’s involvement in Light the Night in the context of the larger community. “Ardsley’s great at rallying around one another and helping out in tough times,” he commented. “When people in Ardsley are in need, the community’s always willing to lend a hand.”
There is still time to join the #HHStrong team by registering on the team’s fundraising website: https://pages.lls.org/ltn/ctwhv/Wstchstr20/hhstrong. While the #HHStrong Light the Night fundraiser ends Oct. 22, contributions can always be made directly to LLS.
Those who did not know the popular Halperin can make his acquaintance virtually by visiting the Facebook site “Remembering Harris Halperin,” which features photos of him with friends, family, and the varsity soccer team of which he was slated to become captain in his senior year.
“I was Harris' high school counselor and I knew him the year before his diagnosis,” Hezi said. “He was known for his humor and tenacious determination to overcome any obstacle in his way. He never gave up hope or fighting. He was an inspiration to all.”