“I was struggling to come up with what I wanted for a wish and I was just talking to Mom about it and we were just thinking of things we could do,” Alyssa explained.
“And then I kind of just thought of it.”
The best gift, she decided, is to give back.
So the 16-year-old, who has spent her life dealing with Nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease, fulfilled her Make-A-Wish dream in August by donating $8,000 to benefit the Third Age Adult Day Center in Plattsburgh, where she volunteers and her mother, Jessica, works.
“We started out with, ‘I want to go on a trip,’ and then she decided that’s not what she wanted,” the mom said. “Then she decided she wanted a dog. And then she decided, ‘No that’s not what I want.’
“So we took a few months off and finally she goes, ‘I know what I want, and if I can’t have it there’s nothing else I want.’ So she told me that she would like to give back to the Third Age Adult Day Center.”
Alyssa, overwhelmed by the wide attention garnered by her check presentation at SUNY Plattsburgh’s Sibley Hall, stated she was thrilled to help friends. Clinton-Franklin-Essex Counties Lead Wish Granter MacMannis, who has been working with Make-A-Wish for 27 years, said Alyssa’s choice did not surprise.
“She’s very observant and she has a huge heart. And I think she sees a lot of herself in some of these participants in the program,” MacMannis said. “I think she sees people that need to ask for help sometimes and sometimes are vulnerable and I think she is someone who has had their own challenges with their health, recognized that in them and it’s a chance for her to give back.”
The Third Age Adult Day Center is a program for elderly individuals with developmental disabilities and memory impairment. Program manager Christine Ouellette says the money Alyssa is giving through Make-A-Wish will allow for the construction of a safe inner courtyard and patio area.