Summer MacMahon Dale, age 16, passed away peacefully at home in Atlanta, surrounded by loving family and friends, on Sunday, Nov. 11. We mourn the great loss of our beautiful girl while at the same time relish the joy she brought into all of our lives during the short time we had the privilege of being with her.
After a year-long battle with cancer, borne with unwavering good humor and grace, Summer ultimately could not overcome the advancing disease. We are thankful for all of the prayers, support, kind words, and medical expertise that kept us strong and hopeful throughout her ordeal. Her final wish was for everyone to know – especially her cherished friends — that she did not fear dying and had received more from the illness – in lessons of love, service and purpose — than it took from her.
Summer, a junior at Riverwood High School, leaves a major legacy in Team Summer (www.teamsummer.org), a non-profit organization that she founded to raise funds to help other kids with cancer. She surprised children she met in hospitals and waiting rooms with special gifts to make their cancer journeys easier: a computer for a teenage boy so he could stay in touch with his friends while in the hospital; gasoline gift cards for a young boy to spare him a seven-hour bus ride after chemotherapy, and a fashion photo shoot for a girl who lost her self-esteem when she lost her hair. There were many other gifts, and each one filled Summer’s heart with the joy of giving and the recognition of the power of love. This, she received from cancer. This, she said, she would not trade away. Cancer eventually took her life, but it did not take her spirit, and it did not take her mission, which will continue.
Summer is survived by her mother, Lynne Dale Williams, who was by her side day and night, tirelessly ministering to her needs during the entire period of Summer’s hospitalization at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas; her father Al Dale, who was Summer’s best audience for her unmatched wit; her twin brother Jordan, a junior at Riverwood High School and unflinching supporter of the sister he loved so much; her stepmother Cynthia Gentry, whose immense love and research skills identified experts for Summer’s treatment; her stepfather Charles Williams, whose untiring devotion came naturally after Summer was diagnosed just two weeks after his marriage to Summer’s mother; her proud grandparents, Marna and Paul Neufer of Williamsport, PA; her loving, funny-gift-giving half-brother Kris Dale; and her beloved stepbrother Jared Gentry, who let Summer shave his head before he shaved hers.
A memorial celebration of this remarkable young woman’s life, officiated by the Rev. Terry Davis of the Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Atlanta, will take place at a time and date to be announced.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Summer’s non-profit organization, Team Summer (www.teamsummer.org), so that her work, vision, and dream may continue.