Pascal Weisberger is fondly remembered as a 14-year-old teen who fervently loved the environment, the animals and the people who surrounded him. Now, through an annual day of service spearheaded by his school, Treasure Village Montessori Charter School (TVM) in Islamorada, his legacy of service continues to live on.
Weisberger died tragically last year, and his loss shook the Upper Keys community that he was so integrated into. On Feb. 2, which would’ve been his 15th birthday, TVM will host a Keyswide day of service in remembrance of Weisberger and all he stood for.
“Every year, we will do this on Pascal’s birthday, as a way to remember and honor him and all that he taught us,” said TVM principal Kelly Mangel. Last year, after the first Pascal Weisberger Day of Service, Mangel told the Keys Weekly, “I don’t think I will ever stop mourning him, but now at least I can say that I have also found ways to celebrate him.”
These acts of service inspired a movement, dubbed #PascalsWay, which spread throughout the island chain. On service days and beyond, everyone – from dolphins to teachers, boy scouts to complete strangers – does good deeds, like cleaning up the mangroves, volunteering at a local animal shelter, or serving at a food bank. They share pictures using the hashtag on social media to galvanize a viral show of love and solidarity that honors Weisberger’s impact on his home.
“I would say I am shocked, but I am not,” Mangel said of how the idea has spread. “I never met a student who touched the lives of so many as Pascal did.”
“‘Pascal’s Way’ refers to having care, compassion and kindness for others, animals and the environment, which is the way that Pascal lived his life,” Ari Poholek, Weisberger’s father, told the Keys Weekly.
This year’s service day will begin with a school-orchestrated fun run at Founders Park in Islamorada, because Weisberger was a dedicated runner and Special Olympics athlete representing TVM. Students will then break off into the community to complete their good deeds. Preschoolers will clean up the beach at Founders; some students will help at Weisberger’s beloved Upper Keys Humane Society animal shelter in Key Largo; others will volunteer at the Laura Quinn Wild Bird Sanctuary in Tavernier; and the entire eighth grade class, which includes some of Weisberger’s former classmates, will assist Bahia Honda park rangers with storm rebuilding and restoration work.
Throughout the day, there will be a bloodmobile outside the TVM campus in case community members want to contribute in that way. Activities will culminate at TVM’s main campus with “kindness in a pocket,” where students will be encouraged to touch base with another student they don’t normally interact with, to have a kind conversation and compliment each other. This idea springs out of Weisberger’s lasting impact on Mangel herself.
“Pascal taught me patience and kindness at a whole new level. He always found time to connect with people regardless of what he was originally doing,” Mangel explained. “We all run from place to place, and if we get stopped by someone, we say we are doing fine and ‘How are you?’ But, Pascal always took the time to completely stop and listen, because he genuinely cared about the answer. It would catch people off guard. Now, I try to take that time, too.”
In Weisberger’s honor, his Boy Scouts Troop 912, which is still led by Poholek as scoutmaster, will be cleaning up Harry Harris Park from 3 to 6 p.m., and the community is invited to join them. Mangel requests that, at sunset, anyone out giving back take a picture and post it using #PascalsWay.
“Pascal would be both very touched and surprised by the recognition he has received by members of the community,” Poholek said. “However, primarily he would be grateful to see so many people doing good works around the Keys, and beyond.”
To join Troop 912’s Harry Harris Park cleanup, contact Poholek at 305-879-2118 or [email protected].