Making the World a Little More Summer-y

Hello, there! My name is Mallory Harris, and I am the co-founder/co-president of Dobby Has Socks, two year-old high school and middle school chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance, based in Atlanta. On November 10th, we threw a community Quidditch tournament to raise money for Camp Sunshine and Team Summer, both phenomenal Atlanta-based charities. The day after this tournament, Summer Dale, founder of the latter organization, passed away. Today, I wish to share her legacy with you.

Summer and one of the many recipients of Team Summer’s awesomness

At the age of 15, Harry Potter learned that he was destined to meet Voldemort in a battle to the death. At the age of 15, Summer Dale received her diagnosis: a form of bone cancer so rare that the doctors named it after her. Rather than despair, both insisted that they would not go down without a fight. Harry formed Dumbledore’s army; Summer founded Team Summer, an organization that aimed to connect and assist kids with cancer. In one year, Summer raised over $50,000 to help kids with cancer, and organized various gifts to lift the spirits of kids fighting cancer. For example, she provided gas cards to a boy who would otherwise have had to face seven-hour bus rides after chemotherapy, and a computer to another boy to keep him occupied during his long treatments. Summer surely achieved her goal of fighting the “isolation and fear” that accompany cancer.

After a whirlwind year of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and brain surgeries, Summer passed away on November 11th. Some may say that she lost her battle against cancer, but I would beg to differ. From the start, Summer set out to fight the “fear and isolation” that come with a cancer diagnosis, and she succeeded every time that she put a smile on another child’s face, astonishing their parents with her kindness. Indeed, one mother of a Team Summer gift recipient remarked, “I just didn’t know people could be so nice.”

Summer transformed those around her, whether they’d met her in personally, or only read her story (as was the case for me). Katie, a close friend of Summer’s described her as, “the type of person that will stick by your side no matter what decision you make. She has the kind of loyalty that is almost fictional because it is so rare… Summer’s name fit her well. Like the season, she radiated happiness and warmth.”

Prior to her death, Summer said to a friend, “Promise me you will let everyone know, especially my friends, that I’m not scared of this. I am not afraid.” Summer exemplified the well-organized mind of which Dumbledore spoke in the first book, when he spoke of death as “the next great adventure.” Indeed, Summer viewed her cancer as an odd sort of gift, as it gave her so many opportunities to assist other people (a mindset perhaps reminiscent of that expressed by Esther Earl in her “nothing more than feelings” video http://dft.ba/-2Etv).

Playing Quidditch to raise money for Team Summer

Although she was not directly involved in the HPA, Summer was a member of our community, encouraging teens toward activism. In an interview with Invisible Children, she remarked, “When you get involved with organizations that help people, it gets you outside yourself. And let’s face it, the world we are helping is the world we live in. Might as well make it better.” Summer embodied the bravery of a Gryffindor throughout her fight, the ambition of a Slytherin, the wit of a Ravenclaw, and the selflessness of a Hufflepuff.

To quote Dumbledore once more, “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.” Summer’s battle was unfair and horrendous, but she fought valiantly. In an extremely short amount of time, Summer’s compassion made a huge impact on thousands of lives. Now, it’s our turn to give back to her. I would like to encourage you to share Summer’s story with your friends.

Summer’s family has requested that people donate to Team Summer, at teamsummer.org/donate, as they plan to continue the organization in Summer’s memory. For a minimum donation of $5, you will receive a complimentary Team Summer wristband. Above all, allow Summer’s story to inspire you. Allow her legacy to live on through your actions.

For more information on Summer’s story and Team Summer, visit teamsummer.org or their facebook page.

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