Way to go!: Ally Gottesman

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Ally Gottesman found a sweet way to raise money for cancer research.

The eighth-grader at Henry L. Stimson Middle School in Huntington Station has collected more than $16,000 over the past six years by asking neighbors for donations in lieu of Halloween candy.

The donations have gone to the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation in Cold Spring Harbor, which honored Ally last month at its 41st annual Ball of the Year at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury.

Ally, 13, said her late aunt's battle with colon cancer inspired her to start raising money for the cause. Her aunt died near Halloween in 2006.

"One day it just popped into my head," Ally said. "It gives me a great feeling and I enjoy doing it."

To spread the word, Ally each year sends out about 100 letters to families in her neighborhood, describing her intention to collect donations while trick-or-treating and advising them of her costume so they can recognize her.

This year, she dressed as the Harry Potter character Bellatrix Lestrange and collected about $2,000.

Ally also plays the violin and softball at her middle school, and in her spare time enjoys horseback riding.

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