And what a team they were! Loved seeing the bond between this girl and her trusted therapy dog. Before she even found gear for herself, she had to make sure that Astro was fully attired in some Superhero gear of his own. And what a sweet girl Alyssa was, easy to see she is a good big sister to her brother Jared (featured in our last post). So kind, sweet and beautiful, as well as intelligent.
Alyssa was a healthy little girl until the age of 8. Out of the blue, she started having many seizures. She has partial and tonic clonic seizures. They have spent the last 4 years trying to get them under control. Her seizures come from her left frontal lobe as a result of cortical dysplasia. In December of 2011 her parents took her to the Cleveland Clinic to undergo surgery hoping to relieve her of seizures. She underwent 2 brain surgeries in one week, but unfortunately the surgery was unsuccessful and she continues to have daily seizures. In August of 2012 Alyssa received her service dog, Astro, in Lincoln, Nebraska from a company called Domesti-PUPS. She and Astro are an incredible team and the two of them can’t be stopped! Some days are hard, but she pushes on and never gives up!
Alyssa and Astro are “The A-Team!!!!” They show the world that even when things are hard or life changing, to never give up! Alyssa is kind, and empathetic, and tries to make everyone feel happy and good about themselves!
Astro will alert others when Alyssa has a seizure and then he stays with her. His harness is designed so that if she is holding on to it when she has a seizure, he will sense that, stop and then help to break her fall so that she doesn’t fall so hard. Astro helps her to get back up to standing after a seizure. He has also been been a huge help for her confidence! She has become much more confident and less insecure since she has had Astro.
This past February the Children’s Choir that Alyssa sings with performed with the Utah Lyric Opera in La Boheme. Despite the risk of seizures, she wanted to participate. She would try to take a nap back stage right before her time on stage to force herself to have a seizure, and then she and Astro would walk on stage and sing and act so beautifully. She managed to get through the performances without a single seizure on stage because of how she took the time to take care of herself. This summer, she had a lead role in Alpine Community Theatre’s Peter Pan. She has had to quit dancing and playing the flute because of how her seizures have affected her, but she has found other things that she can do and hasn’t let her condition stop her!
“Alyssa is a happy, generous person. She loves to give gifts to people and makes the best homemade cards you have ever seen. She is extremely creative and sings all day long. Her right arm doesn’t always cooperate since surgery and she never knows when the next seizure will strike but she is so resilient. I am continually amazed at how she has not let her epilepsy stop her. Her life has changed drastically but she has accepted her challenges with amazing strength and grace.” -Rebecca, Alyssa’s mother.
Well Alyssa, I can see that you are a force to be reckoned with! You have not let your limitations stop you one bit, and that is something to surely be admired! I’m so glad you and Astro found each other, what a beautiful and powerful team you make! It was a pleasure meeting you both, as well as your brother and mother as well. What a wonderful family, and wonderful kids! Thanks for sharing a bit of you with us, we truly enjoyed the little time we spent with you…. and hopefully we didn’t traumatize Astro too much! (he was afraid of the reflective floor in front of the brick wall…. so much, that we had to move it completely out of his view before he would go join his companion for the portion of pictures with me). Alyssa and Astro, no one can deny that you two are True Superheroes, and we’re proud to know you!