By Michael Sudhalter
Alyssa Ferguson spent the past year enduring 20 rounds of outpatient Chemotherapy, nine rounds of in-patient chemo, 30 days of radiation and a surgery to remove a tumor the size of a baseball.
While doctors at M.D. Anderson Cancer worked hard to ensure that Ferguson, 13, survived the Medulloblastoma tutor, social workers at the hospital contacted the the Sienna Plantation resident and her family about the Make-A- Wish Foundation.
Alyssa’s parents, Sandy and Scott Ferguson, would have been happy with any wish that their then-sixth grade daughter would have chosen.
Make-A-Wish’s Texas Gulf Coast/Louisiana Chapter granted 505 wishes last year, from trips to places all around the world to setting up meetings with celebrities and professional athletes.
Rarely, does Make-A-Wish get a request from a child who would like to help others.
“I’m very, very proud of her,” Scott said. “I was touched and humbled. I’m not sure I would have done that.”
Alyssa decided that she wanted a village in Africa to have their own water well.
“In fifth grade, my teacher read “A Long Walk to Water,” and I heard a song called “Do Something” by a Christian musician named Matthew West,” that also inspired me,” Alyssa said. “I just kept thinking that me getting this wish is God’s Plan and His plan is the way (it happened).”
Alyssa and her family attend the First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, and she said her faith played an important role in battling cancer. She’s scheduled to undergo her final round of chemotherapy during the first week of March.
“A lot of people have been praying for me, and I’ve been praying for myself,” it’s given me strength,” Alyssa said.
Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Texas Gulf Coast/Louisiana chapter is located in the former Ethan Allen retail store on the U.S. Hwy. 59 feeder in Stafford, and it’s CEO is Teresa Andrepont of Sugar Land.
“These wishes touch not only the family, but the community,” Teresa said. “We come together and support the family.”
Make-A-Wish, which was founded in 1980, used to only do wishes for terminally ill children, but its mission has been changed to include children with life-threatening illnesses.
They had a previous wish from a Louisiana boy who’s wish was to see an irrigation system built for an African orphanage.
From that, the Andreponts had a contact in Rev. Peter Mabasa in a village of approximately 500 residents in Zimbabwe.
Jim contacted Mabasa last summer, and a water engineer was hired to drill a hole, so the villagers could have a water well. It was completed last fall, and the village children made a brief video to thank Alyssa for her efforts.
The water well is significant because previously the villagers had to travel to a nearby river for clean drinking water. That would cause problems because crocodiles and hippos would often injure or kill the village children.
The Fergusons plan on traveling to the village in Zimbabwe this summer to see the well for themselves and meet the local people.
Despite missing 75 days of school last spring, Alyssa‚ “now a seventh grader at Baines Middle School,” has maintained straight As.
“She wants to go to school, and she made herself go,” Sandy said. “At that age, you need the social aspect as much as you need the academic aspect.”
Not surprisingly, Alyssa wants to become an elementary school teacher—a dream she has harbored since she was a Kindergartener.