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Lohud | The Journal News

Vershawn London, fashion show maven and mentor, leaves legacy through organ donation

By Nancy Cutler, Rockland/Westchester Journal News,


Vershawn London focused on enriching young lives as a teachers aide in the East Ramapo schools, as a mentor, and as founder and CEO of Fashion House of London, where he offered lessons in poise and presentation and put on fabulous fashion shows around the region so young people could shine.

His signature saying, "Walk for me," encouraged kids to embody confidence.

London fell ill on May 12 with bacterial meningitis. At Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, he was placed on life support.

In his final hour, London was escorted by family and community on an Honor Walk as organ donation surgery was planned. An Honor Walk allows hospital personnel to stand with the family and commemorate the donor.

In death, provided opportunity for others. Nearly 9,000 New Yorkers statewide — 131 of whom are children under the age of 18 — are waiting for a lifesaving transplant, according to United Network for Organ Sharing.

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More than 100 showed up at Good Sam for the Honor Walk, to say goodbye. Former students and their parents from East Ramapo schools were there, as were two school board members and so many others.

Outside the hospital, they gathered as LiveOnNY officials raised a flag in London's honor, a salute to his gifts. Gasps and sobs could be heard.

Hempstead Elementary teaching assistant Jackie Rivera had previously worked with London, who was recently a teachers aide at Kakiat STEAM Academy.

Rivera discussed London's "passion for fashion" and how he put on fashion shows that helped build kids' confidence. "Vershawn saved so many," she said to the crowd that encircled her, many of whom nodded in agreement, "giving them the opportunity to feel accomplished.

"We are all here because Vershawn made an impact on our lives," Rivera said. "Even now, in his last walk, he shared his grace."

Then, she called out London's catchphrase: "Walk for me!"

Rounds of resounding "Walk for me!" were returned.

After, they stayed together, candles slowly burning down, sharing song, prayer and memories.

Funeral planned

Vershawn London was born in Mount Vernon and resided there, in Yonkers, and the Bronx before moving up to Rockland County with his father, Paul Smallwood.

He was an active member of Faith Temple Church in Spring Valley.

A wake is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon Friday, June 2, at First Baptist Church in Spring Valley. The funeral follows at noon at First Baptist. Burial will be at Brick Church Cemetery.

About organ/tissue donation

Register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor at the national Donate Life Registry at and find more information at LiveOnNY, or

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