On Saturday, Feb. 6, nearly 100 kids came to Millbrae Skatepark for the Ride for Max event to honor and remember former Burlingame High School student Max Heffernan, who took his life early last year.
Those who knew Max knew that he was passionate about many things, but most of all he had a love for biking and skating. Adam Melamed, a junior at Sequoia High School and a close friend of Max, organized the event and referred to Millbrae Skatepark as Max’s “second home.”
At the event, the skatepark was filled with kids attempting and filming new tricks while sharing memories of Max. The noise of laughter and bikes grinding on railings could be heard from a block over. At the entrance of the park hung a large orange poster titled “A tribute to our friend Max” where kids could write a message to Max. While most kids were on a skateboard or bike, some just came to enjoy the atmosphere and spend the day with people who shared a friend in Max. The event had been put off for a few weeks due to rain, but the group could not have asked for more perfect weather to spend the day outside in the sun.
Most came from Burlingame and Millbrae, but some came from across the Bay, traveling over two hours to be there and reconnect with their group of friends- many of whom Max had brought together. Melamed said he organized the event with the goal of bringing Max’s closest friends together and to “remember him as the happy, energetic guy he was.”
BHS junior Strahinja Kovacevic said he was “happy to see how many kids showed up just to express their support for Max.”
The event was also raising money to donate to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization dedicated to treating and rehabilitating victims of mental illness. The organization’s slogan is “See the person, not the illness” and this message was beautifully demonstrated in the words of everyone I talked to at the event. The event’s purpose was not to remember what happened to Max, but rather who Max was. When students at the event were asked about how they will remember Max, the same words kept coming up: as a biker, a skater, a laugher, a jokester, and, most of all, a friend.
When asked how he will remember Max, Kovacevic struggled to find the right words. Finally, he settled on Max’s laugh.
“He always laughed. No matter the situation was, he’d be laughing.”
Melamed believes that “Max had touched the lives of everyone in the park, and the joy he brought to the world will never be forgotten.”
For a complete photo album of the event go to: