Students organize charity car wash to benefit family after fatal crash

BERNE — Following a car crash that killed a Berne mother and injured her two teen boys, Berne-Knox-Westerlo students will host a car wash over Memorial Day weekend to raise money for the family. 

Jeremy Martin, 16, told The Enterprise this week that he and his friend Maia Ballapo, also 16, immediately began organizing the event after hearing about the crash involving their schoolmates.

On May 16, Lisa Sperry, 55, was driving a minivan with her two sons — Cade Sperry, 15, and Calvin Sperry, 18 — as passengers when they were hit head-on by a Westerlo man charged with drunk driving.

All three Sperrys were taken to Albany Medical Center with serious injuries. Lisa Sperry died two days later, but her sons have since been released from the hospital. 

The mother of four sons, Lisa Sperry, her family wrote in a tribute, “took great joy in raising her children. She was happy to have all her sons’ friends at her home and was lovingly known as ‘Mama Lisa.’ The Sperry home was their home.”

Her funeral is on Friday morning at 10 a.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont.

Martin is friends with the Sperry boys, especially Calvin, whom he met through school. The two enjoy playing video games and dirt biking together, Martin said. 

Martin had seen first responders speed to the accident scene on Route 401 just after it happened, but he didn’t know, then, that it was his friends who were in trouble.

“I was skateboarding at my house in my driveway and I saw cop cars flying past my house,” Martin said, “so that was when I was like, ‘Oh geez, someone got into an accident or something.’”

“I saw the cops and everything,” he said, “but I didn’t realize that it was my friend that was in the accident until the end of the day. It was pretty sad to hear about.” 

Word of the accident spread fast, said Martin, who explained that the day after the crash he had people coming up to him, wondering if the Sperrys were OK. 

“Most of the idea came from Maia,” Martin told The Enterprise this week. “She wanted to start a fundraiser because she knew they were going to need to pay for a lot and they just had a lot of stuff going on … Obviously with summer coming around she thought it would be a good idea to do a car wash so everyone can clean their car and a lot of people can participate.”

The car wash is taking place at the BKW bus garage in Berne on Saturday, May 29, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., with baked goods and beverages for sale. A wash costs $15, and Martin said that a score of students will participate.   

“I’m really thankful to be able to help this family,” Martin said. “It really means a lot to me and the whole community that we’re doing this.”

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