Family and friends of Alexis Pilkington, the West Islip teen who committed suicide in March, came together Friday night to celebrate her life and, they hoped, to help others avoid her tragic fate.
The Alexis Pilkington Memorial Foundation, founded by her parents and friends, hosted a fundraiser at a Cedar Beach pavilion in Babylon to raise awareness about suicide prevention and cyberbullying.
Many wore yellow "Lexi's Beach Bash" shirts as the family collected donations, which will also fund scholarships in the 17-year-old's name.
Those attending crowded the Beach Hut Raw Bar and Grill, with music blasting and no shortage of drinks and food.
"I think we've had a horrific tragedy and created something truly inspiring out of it," said Alexis' cousin Connor Pilkington, 20, of Holbrook. "It's a great cause and we can really help a lot of people with it, and we will."
Pilkington, a soccer player and a recent graduate of West Islip High School, was found dead March 21. Her suicide at first gained attention because of anonymous negative comments posted on her Facebook page and on Formspring. me.
Alexis' parents, Paula and Tom Pilkington, led the fundraiser and sold raffle tickets. They viewed it as a success as they hold in mind their daughter's tragedy.
"You try to take a positive from every negative," her father said. "Even if you save one life, it's all been worth it."
Alexis' mother thanked those who attended. "This is helping you," she said. "And by helping you, you're helping us. Please be generous with your donations, and I promise they will go to education and research for this cause."
Pilkington's parents insist cyberbullying did not push their daughter over the edge. Instead they have focused on the mental health aspects of suicide, and the toll on those left behind. Classmates, though, have spoken out against cyberbullying, and they boycotted social networking sites.
Donations collected Friday night will go to Response of Suffolk County, The Long Island Crisis Center, Family Service League and Suicide Prevention Education Awareness for Kids. For more information, go to alexispilkingtonmemorialfoundation.org or e-mail email@example.com.
With Evan Klonsky
and Joseph Mallia