With four healthy boys running around we never gave a second thought to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Then our fifth child and only girl, Alyssa, came along. She brightened our world in countless ways. Not long after her birth, it became clear that Alyssa had some unique health issues. Through her, we discovered how special Children’s Hospital is and how fortunate we are to have it in our backyard.
Alyssa was born with clubfeet in September 1988. By the time she was 6 months old, she was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder that affects the heart, aorta, eyes and skeletal system. Before celebrating her first birthday, she underwent heart surgery.
During the next 15 years, we spent a great deal of time at Children’s Hospital, where Alyssa had numerous surgeries and treatments. The doctors, nurses and staff knew her and would welcome her as we walked the hallways. Children’s Hospital was a comforting place for her; a second home of sorts. The doctors and staff were like family and helped us navigate through new and sometimes scary territory.
Alyssa passed away at age 16 from complications related to Loeys-Dietz syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that was first identified that same year. Loeys-Dietz is similar to Marfan’s syndrome.
Rally for Aly
Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk for Children’s Hospital was important to Alyssa. She was a Children’s Champion. There were some years when she was too weak to walk, but she was there sporting her infectious smile. Happily, there were a few years she walked and was proud of herself for making it to the finishline.
It is important that we carry on the tradition of participating to honor Alyssa and support the institution that provided her with exceptional care. In 2005, we created Rally for Aly, a team of loving family and friends who run or walk with purpose and motivation. Through the years, Rally for Aly has raised nearly $33,000 and has become one of the largest Briggs & Al’s community teams.
Each year we strive to have more team members and raise more money because we know the impact. We raise pledges through the donation website, but have found other ways to raise money. Generous family and friends have helped organize rummage sales, raffles, silent auctions and fundraising parties to benefit our team. We are extremely proud of the work we have done and know Alyssa would be, too.
We invite you to join us, Saturday, Sept. 15, whether it is on our team or another, because the steps you take in Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk have a lasting impact. I encourage you to register today at alsrun.com.
~ Lynn Pape, guest blogger and mother of Alyssa