Hundreds gathered on the lawn of Westfield High School Sunday evening to honor friend and classmate Allison Harth.
A candlelight vigil was held to pay tribute to the life of the WHS senior who was remembered for her infectious laughter and kindness to everyone she encountered. The girl with ginger hair and a golden smile, who was loved by all who knew her, passed away Monday, Nov. 26 after a valiant battle with cancer. Harth was 17.
A soft rain fell as friends shared memories and stories of the ways in which Harth not only touched their lives but also improved them. A volleyball and rugby player, teammates described how Harth "always had your back" on and off the field. It was the young woman's courage in the face adversity that caused many to say she was the bravest person they'd ever met.
Known for her love of long walks and heart-to-heart talks, Harth was remembered as a confidante with an uncommon zest for living. Her life was one lived to the fullest yet cut far too short, all agreed. One close friend encouraged the community to think of Harth not as the girl who died tragically, but as the girl who lived spectacularly.
Ann McDonough, Harth's second grade teacher, said she was glad to have the opportunity to honor the life of her former student, whom she remembered as "a sweet, kind-hearted girl." McDonough, who taught Harth at Jefferson Elementary, said she recalled thinking at the time Allie was her student, "If I ever have a daughter, I hope she's like her."
Hannah DeKoning-Teasdale, a friend of Harth's, collected donations for the Valerie Fund Center. Jars for contributions will be placed in both the guidance and main offices of the high school throughout the week. Those wishing to honor Harth's memory can also do so by sending a donation to the Valerie Fund Center Morristown Medical Center, 100 Madison Ave., Morristown, N.J. 07960.