Students raise money to honor USF alumnus

Memories of a former USF student were shared along Lettuce Lake Park Trail in Tampa on Saturday during a charity walk-a-thon held in honor of his life.

Following his graduation from USF last year, Dane Harmon prepared to move to Washington, D.C., to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

But as he was riding his bicycle Aug. 29 to his sister’s house near St. Leo University, a vehicle struck Harmon, inflicting trauma to his brain that eventually killed him. He was 24 years old.

That sparked a desire in Harmon’s family to raise money to donate to the Drake Center for Brain Trauma Research.

“We heard that they did a lot for brain trauma research, and because that was the cause of his death, it was important to us that we do something to support it,” said Valerie Hammen, Harmon’s sister.

One-third of the money raised will be donated to the Drake Center, a rehabilitation and research facility in Cincinnati, that specializes in brain trauma, said Helen Barclay, a member of the USF Math Club, which helped organize the walk.

“The whole point was not only to raise money for foundations, but to remember Dane in a good way,” Barclay said. “I know for the entire walk, my friends and I were sharing stories about him and remembering why we care about him. I think it was a positive way to commemorate him instead of sitting and mourning.”

The remaining two-thirds of the money raised will be given to the Dane Harmon Scholarship Fund to be created by Harmon’s family, said Susan Harmon, his mother.

“Dane was a happy soul and a brilliant mind, too,” she said. “A lover of life and a giver.”

The scholarship is being set up through the College of Arts and Sciences and will be available to math majors in fall 2010. Susan said she hopes the scholarship will be offered annually.

Donations included individual pledges and private donations. The funds will be counted this week, said Math Club adviser Fernando Burgos.

“I think the walk-a-thon was a great success,” Burgos said. “I think it’s a good thing. It’s something that is uplifting, and it’s something that we wanted to do in Dane’s memory.”

While attending USF, Dane Harmon was a Student Government (SG) senator, a DJ on the student-run Bulls Radio and 2007-08 president of the Math Club.

Dane also volunteered to work on the school’s Web site as well as sites for SG, the radio station and Math Club.

Andrew Burruss, a math graduate student, said Harmon was an integral part of the Math Club and a “great friend.”

“His leadership really helped membership and he did a lot to really draw people in (to the Math Club),” Burruss said. “He was the kind of guy you could talk to for five minutes and you were his friend.”

Susan said she hopes the money raised in her son’s memory will continue to help the community in his absence.

“It really pleases us to know that his friends cared so much about him. Dane was such a selfless giver. He did so much for the community and USF, and he would be so honored to know that everyone is continuing to give in his memory and in his name,” she said. “This is another way that he can keep on giving, the way he always did.”