Hallie Geier, 11, (left) died after being struck by a car in Sunnyside, but her life has inspired a the “A Better World Festival” in Sunnyside Saturday. Photo courtesy of QEDC.

Sunnyside Family Turns Tragedy Into Hope for ‘A Better World’

By Victoria Merlino
Queens Daily Eagle

In Sunnyside, you’re never too young to change the world.

An event Saturday proves that.

A Better World Festival, which takes place from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Bliss Plaza, honors the life of Hallie Geier, a 11-year-old who died after being struck by an SUV in front of her Sunnyside home in 2004.

“Hallie felt that she could make a difference. She always wanted to do something special,” Hallie’s father Ted Geier said in a statement. “I know people will be inspired to take action when Barbara, Ellis, and others read her encouraging words at the Festival.”

The event includes art, music and dancing for people of all ages, especially kids.

Though she was young, Hallie was already an activist and prolific writer who penned about 1,000 essays, poems and stories. Hallie’s life inspired her family to form the LOVE, HALLIE Foundation. The nonprofit organization continues to spread Hallie’s optimism through good works, including through its youth-action branch, Hallie’s Angels.

Chapters of Hallie’s Angels volunteer to improve communities in need around the world. Their projects include programs to address HIV/AIDS in Africa, a cause that Hallie was saving money for before she died.

Hallie’s Angels will be front-and-center at A Better World Festival and active member Ellis Rubin will help organize activities. Rubin, a 13-year-old Queens native, appeared in the 2017 film “The Greatest Showman” as a young P.T. Barnum.

Sunnyside native Molly Martin, 17, is managing the entire festival with a group of young volunteers.

The event features prominent speakers, performers, nonprofit organizations and local residents who will promote activism and positive change in the community.

“We have been organizing rallies and events to engage people in creating positive change,” City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents Sunnyside, said in a statement. “People want to get involved and help their neighborhood and their neighbors. So, we’ve asked nonprofits who welcome volunteers, especially young people, to share those opportunities at the Festival. We’re thrilled to welcome all to join us for an exciting day, to get motivation and information that will improve communities across the city and the lives of people everywhere.”

Other famous attendees will include Barbara Feldon, who appeared on the 1960s TV show “Get Smart,” and Buddy Mantia, who performed with the comedy ensemble “The Untouchables.” The two will perform some of Hallie’s writings.

Kids and adults at the festival are encouraged to sing, dance and get creative with dozens of local arts groups. Organizations will also lead activities like voter registration and free chess instruction.

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