Giving Back from the Heart: Inspiration in the Face of Tragedy
The fact that Alyssa did this in the face of personal tragedy makes her all the more extraordinary.
A desire to help others
Earlier this year, Alyssa was involved in a tragic car accident that claimed the lives of her siblings Evan and Amanda.
“It was the worst week of our lives and we were in shock,” recalls their mother, Susan, who survived the crash along with Alyssa. “She broke her ribs and pelvis, and she suffered a concussion. We’re grateful for the care she received at McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH) as she got back on her feet.”
During Alyssa’s recovery, she expressed a desire to help other children at the MCH. “Alyssa was extremely thankful for the pyjamas, colouring books and toys that she was given during her stay,” explains Susan. “She wanted to raise money so other patients could be given more things like this to make their time at the hospital more positive.”
On Mother’s Day, Susan felt ready to have a conversation about fundraising. Alyssa got to work that day planning a “cookie business” – making lists of what she would need to get started. Things quickly gained momentum from that point.
“With her father Gregson, we worked together as a team to take orders, bake the cookies and deliver them. It was nice doing this together as a family, but it was also difficult because we used to do Christmas baking with Evan and Amanda before the accident.”
The orders started coming in fast and furious. One neighbour ordered 30 dozen cookies. The Waterloo Police Department ordered 36 dozen. The principal and vice-principal of Alyssa’s school ordered 35 dozen as a gift for the staff.
“Support from the community was amazing,” says Susan. “Originally, we were hoping to raise $1,000. We made that within the first week. Soon, we surpassed $3,000. By the time we stopped taking orders during the summer, we’d raised more than $5,000. We also donated a suitcase full of pyjamas, craft supplies and other fun things for patients.”
A time for healing
The family’s fundraising was a therapeutic experience for all of them, allowing them to spend time together and move forward in the face of tragedy. It was a way for them to give back and start the healing process at the same time.
“It’s amazing that Alyssa could take something negative and turn it into something so wonderful. Hopefully, she’ll inspire others to give back too. I’m so proud of her.”