by Caitlin O’Brien
On November 16, an estimated 1,000 people came to Tod’s point for the #LiveLikeLuke beach cleanup. Because of a battle against cancer, Luke Meyers was not always able to attend school this year. His teammates and classmates miss him very much.
Luke’s impact and enthusiasm was felt in his active engagement in the community through cross country, Model UN, and a leadership role in the Environmental Action Club (EAC). In early November, Luke, the coordinator of EAC small events, expressed his interest in organizing a beach clean up for the club members. This lead the EAC and club advisor Mr. Conlan to help organize a cleanup in honor of Luke. This event was a tribute to his positive attitude towards life and his passion for saving the environment. Before the cleanup, Ms. Peltir, co-advisor for the Environmental Action Club stated, “the response to the community leading up to the event had been overwhelmingly supportive, we hope to have our event be successful and as great as the student we are supporting.”
Once word got out, hundreds of people attended the cleanup. A small event soon became a big excitement, and the hashtag “#LiveLikeLuke” was coined.
The cleanup itself was very interactive, with contests for the grossest piece of trash and the biggest piece of trash, all judged by Luke at home. Rooms in the Bruce Museum Seaside Center (near the entrance of the beach) were dedicated to videos for Luke, allowing people to send a message to him and show how he inspired them. His classmates, teachers, and family friends all collaborated to put this incredible event together.
Rachel Alliker, the president of the Environmental Action Club, said “I’m so happy to have seen the outpouring of support for Luke from the community. With countless students posting and reposting the beach clean up posters all over their Instagrams, their support for Luke is heartwarming. It means the world to the Meyers family and our club that the community is rallying behind Luke.” In the end, there were two dumpsters filled with trash from the beach, trash that could otherwise end up in the ocean.
Caroline Regan, a junior at Greenwich High School, thought “it was so great to see everyone come together to support Luke.” This shows the impact Luke had on the community, and how his actions have inspired others to live more sustainable lives.
The news outlet 60 Minutes even tweeted about the event, reprising a story about the overwhelming plastic in the ocean in honor of Luke. There is also a possibility of 60 Minutes featuring the beach cleanup in one of their episodes, stating on their twitter page, “#LiveLikeLuke is a cause close to our hearts.”
The support from the Greenwich community was astounding, that so many people were willing to spend hours at the beach on a Saturday morning to pick up trash at the beach. Luke did not only inspire people in Greenwich, however. GHS teacher and Model UN advisor Mr. Tiedamann helped organize a speaker event that matched Luke’s interest in sustainability with his work in Model UN. Satya Tripathi, UN Environmental Programme Assistant Secretary General Head of the New York Office, was asked to speak as a part of the Live Like Luke movement; he happily agreed to come free of charge as he realized what this meant to Luke and to students hoping to take action.
On Saturday, December 14, about 200 people gathered in the GHS PAC to hear Mr. Tripathi speak on issues in the environment. He emphasized the importance of small actions in the community; citizens can drive the environmental movement regardless of the government’s policies. Kelly, a freshman who attended the event, said, “I really enjoyed his speech, I think Luke would have been very proud at all the people who came to learn about the environment.”
Hopefully, the beach cleanup and speaker event inspired others to Live Like Luke and to continue working toward his vision for the world.