Fort Bend Star Newspaper Shares Alyssa’s Story

The Fort Bend Star newspaper of Fort Bend County, TX shared Alyssa’s story about her cancer journey, her wish for water wells, the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund, and the FBISD naming of a new elementary school.

The text of the article follows:

New FBISD elementary school to bear name of late student

  • By Matt deGrood, Fort Bend Star
  • Apr 19, 2022
Alyssa Ferguson
Alyssa Ferguson, pictured in an orange dress, is surrounded by her parents, Scott and Sandy, and sister Jenna. Contributed photo

Fort Bend County residents and leaders in the days since the school district announced its 54th elementary school would be named after Alyssa Ferguson shared remembrances that wouldn’t be out of place discussing famous figures from the county’s past.

But whereas many of the district’s other schools are named after former board members, educators or famous county figures, Alyssa Ferguson Elementary School’s namesake is a former student who left her mark on the district before her untimely death in 2017 from cancer.

“As a committee, we felt Alyssa’s life provides a great example to our students on how they can utilize the profile-of-a-graduate attributes in serving as compassionate citizens and servant leaders,” FBISD board President Dave Rosenthal said.

The board of trustees recently approved the school’s name at a board meeting. Alyssa Ferguson Elementary School is set to open in the fall of 2023 at 13000 Heritage Park Drive in Missouri City, near the Sienna neighborhood that Ferguson called home during her lifetime.

Ferguson, who died at age 15, also impressed scores of Fort Bend County leaders and residents when she opted to use her Make-A-Wish to help build a well for a village in Africa.

“It’s an honor,” said Sandy Ferguson, Alyssa’s mother. “It’s been five years since she passed, and to know she’s still remembered and had such an incredible heart is an incredible legacy. Every kid who walks through the doors of the school will have a chance to see what she has done and realize that, even as a kid, they can make a difference in the world, in their school and in their communities.”

The Ferguson family had only moved to Fort Bend County in August 2013, and Alyssa Ferguson enrolled at Baines Middle School in FBISD, her father, Scott Ferguson, shared with the Fort Bend Star last week.

From the beginning, Alyssa Ferguson was cut from a different cloth than many other students.

“She always had a heart for others,” Scott Ferguson said. “Even as a little kid, when we’d pass someone who was homeless, she’d always say, ‘We have an extra room, why can’t they just stay with us?’”

Alyssa Ferguson was diagnosed in January 2014 with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor with an 80 percent treatment success rate, Scott Ferguson said.

“We just never dreamed we’d be in that 20 percent,” he said. “You assume those 20 percent are those with additional medical issues.”

While doctors have a lot of success against the type of tumor, they only have one treatment for it, Scott Ferguson explained. If that doesn’t work, there aren’t many other options, he said.

Over coming months and years, Alyssa Ferguson’s life became a series of radiation treatments, doctors’ visits and surgeries, Scott Ferguson said.

But through it all, Alyssa Ferguson remained devoted to school and maintaining a positive attitude, he said.

“She became friends with all the other kids going through treatment,” he said. “There was one boy there from China who didn’t speak English. She didn’t speak his language, so she downloaded a language app and became friends with him. He came to the house for dinner one time.”

And even as more of her time became occupied with trips to doctors and trials in Boston and elsewhere, Alyssa Ferguson worked to keep up at school, her family said.

“She kept fighting and kept going to school the entire time,” Scott Ferguson said. “She made good grades, was in band and involved in church and her youth group. She stayed active all the way until she went into hospice.”

Some of Alyssa Ferguson’s actions during her battle with brain cancer left an indelible impression on elected leaders in Fort Bend County as well.

“I learned about this incredible young lady when I heard what Alyssa did with her wish from Make-A Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana,” former U.S. Rep. Pete Olson said.

Where many children use their make-a-wish to meet a favorite athlete or visit somewhere, Alyssa Ferguson opted to use hers to build a well in a village in Zimbabwe called Murehwa.

Alyssa Ferguson came up with the idea because, years earlier, she’d read a book called “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park and decided this was her opportunity to help, Scott Ferguson said.

“Amazingly, she told Scott and Sandy that, ‘The only reason I got this wish is because I got sick. I should use it to help someone. I didn’t earn it,’” Olson said.

Alyssa Ferguson’s family held out hope that she would eventually recover and they would all take a visit to the village, they said. But the Fergusons ended up making the journey after Alyssa’s death, where they discovered what a difference the well made in the lives of the villagers, they said.

“It was just beautiful to see how water was changing the whole village,” Scott Ferguson said.

The population of the village has almost doubled in the years since, and more children have been able to attend school because the well sits next to a school, Scott Ferguson said. Before, they had to spend their days traversing to a water hole, but now can attend classes and fill jugs of water on their way home, he said.

To keep their daughter’s memory alive, the family has set up a foundation to continue building wells, Scott Ferguson said. The foundation is called the Alyssa Ferguson World-Changers Fund, and it has helped build eight wells and counting across the world, including ones in Myanmar, India, Haiti and South Sudan, Scott Ferguson said.

Now, the Fergusons hope that generations of students will have the opportunity to learn from their daughter’s example, they said.

And the Fort Bend County community was unanimous in agreeing the honor was well-deserved.

“For those of you that never knew Alyssa, I want you to know this is a beautiful recognition from Fort Bend Independent School District,” said Sugar Land Councilperson William Ferguson, who is not related to Alyssa.

The link to the original article can be found here.

Mark Lowry Shares Alyssa’s Story on his “Just Whenever” Show

Mark Lowry is a Christian musician, comedian, and songwriter. He is best known for being a member of the Gaither Vocal Band and for writing the newly classic Christmas song “Mary, Did You Know?“.

Today, Mark interviewed Alyssa’s parents on his “Just Whenever” show and shared her story with his audience.

The episode is posted here. You are encouraged to enjoy the entire episode. The portion where Mark talks about Alyssa begins at the 19:50 mark.

The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund is grateful to Mark Lowry for sharing Alyssa’s story and to the many new donors who have responded to this episode with a gift to Alyssa’s Fund.

Water Well Funded in South Sudan

Every water well God blesses the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund to dig is a special well — special to the Fund and its donors, special to Alyssa’s memory, special to the Fergusons, and of course special to the village that becomes transformed through Christ and his living water. But the new water well being announced today is extra special. The well will be in the country of South Sudan, located in East-Central Africa.

South Sudan Map

This new well is in partnership with Water for South Sudan. You may recall that when Alyssa was granted a wish by the Make A Wish Foundation, the song “Do Something” by Matthew West inspired her to do something with her wish. As she pondered what her “do something” might be, she thought back on the book she read in school, A Long Walk To Water by Linda Sue Park and made the decision to have a well dug in Africa for a village in need. For the full story, read the About Alyssa page.

In the book, which you should read, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan ends up starting a charity to help with water in his cherished South Sudan. That charity grew into what is now Water for South Sudan, the organization the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund is partnering with for the new water well.

Being 2020 is the year Alyssa would have graduated from high school, it is a fitting time to bring this full circle. Alyssa read a book in school that left an impression on her heart. Matthew West wrote a song where she heard God calling her to Do Something. This graduation year, the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund partners with the very charity featured in the book Alyssa read in school that inspired her vision and launched this ministry to help provide water around the world. God be praised for the circle he created!

Thank you for being a part of the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund, honoring God and honoring Alyssa’s memory and dream. Join us with a gift to her fund and help us with the next well. People are thirsty. You can help! Do Something and help reduce that Long Walk to Water.

Well Completed in Kenya

complete slab pouring.

 

The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund is pleased to announce that a water well has been completed in Turkana, Kenya! This special well is in memory of both Alyssa and her dear friend Randy Roberts.

The new well provides fresh clean water to 1600 people. Previously, there had been two attempts to drill a bore hole in this area and sadly, both times they failed to find water. This time, a more recent technology was tried through a grant provided by the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund to Christian Relief Fund. God used this time, this place, these two nonprofits, a large number of World Changers donors, this new technology, and these funds to let the water flow!

The new well is located on a high school campus, allowing students to attend school and receive education versus spending their days hiking and hauling dirty water. Now they attend school all day and bring home fresh water to their families at the end of the day. Praise God for both his earthly and his living water!

Photo with plaque

If you would like to assist in providing funding for the next well, click here to explore the different ways you can make a gift to the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund.

Texas Tech Pitcher Donates Hair to Charity in Honor of Alyssa

Image

FOX34 Lubbock published the following story about Alyssa’s cousin, Connor Queen, donating his hair to charity in her honor. The original story is quoted below:

Texas Tech baseball head coach Tim Tadlock is not only leading the Red Raiders to success on the field, but he’s teaching them how to make a difference off of it.

While pitcher Connor Queen was a key piece in the Red Raider’s second straight trip to the College World Series, the right-hander had plans after the season. He donated his hair to Pantene’s “Beautiful Lengths”, and his motivation is clear.

“My cousin had brain cancer and she was diagnosed in 2012. She passed away in 2017 so obviously I wanted to remember her and honor her any way I can. I like to think I have pretty hair so I wanted to donate it,” Queen said. 

Along with his ability on the bump, Queen is also known for his long hair. Although it was his second year in a row chopping it off, it was still difficult. 

“Definitely didn’t want to do it. I sat on the chair for a while and then I sat there to take a deep breath and was ready to go,” Queen said. 

When it came down to a decision on which non-profit to donate to, “Beautiful Lengths” was the easy choice for Connor.

“They work with the American Cancer Association and I just assumed it would be easiest for them,” he said. 

So far, Pantene has donated more than 3,400 real hair wigs to the American Cancer Society’s wig banks. 

To donate, click here. Or you can support Connor’s cousin Alyssa’s fund, click here.

To see the original story, click here

Classmates Honor Alyssa’s Memory

The text and photos of this post are from A Shelter for Cancer Families, a charity near and dear to the Fergusons.

Go Gold 1

Families impacted by childhood cancer pose with Donny, Alex, and Zach before going on stage.

So proud of A Shelter for Cancer Families’ Ambassador Donny Phillips. When presented with an opportunity to showcase his talent at a high school event, Donny chose to use his platform to create awareness of childhood cancer and did he ever! Even the Houston floods couldn’t dampen the PURE GOLD that shown brightly last night. Donny recruited his friends Alex & Zach to join him. They surprised the entire audience when they dedicated their performance to their late classmate Alyssa Ferguson. World Changers (a song written about Alyssa by Christian musical artist Matthew West) played as the trio welcomed the Ferguson family and others in the community affected by childhood cancer onto the stage. Donny held Felipe “Pipe” Muyshondt (who is currently battling the same type of brain tumor that Donny’s younger brother and cancer survivor, Jake survived five years ago) as the song played. Truly a golden moment, none in the audience will soon forget.

Go Gold 2

Zach, Donny, and Alex in their GO GOLD costumes

Here is a short video of their performance:

 

 

 

 

 

Children Raise Money for Water Well

The children attending Vacation Bible School this summer at First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, TX collected money for the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund.

As part of their lesson on learning about serving, they were told Alyssa’s story and given the opportunity to join her ministry. Each day, they brought their change and put it in a wishing well. Some children even worked hard by creating their own lemonade stands, car washes, and doing chores at home to collect more money for the well. All in all, the children donated $2,000 toward the next water well!

All of us at the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund are grateful and impressed by their generosity!

VBS Well

 

Water Well Being Built in Kenya

Kenya Map

One year ago today, the Ferguson family was in Zimbabwe seeing Alyssa’s very first well. Today, the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund is pleased to announce a grant for funding of well number seven! Alyssa’s Fund is partnering with Christian Relief Fund for a well to be dug in Kenya.

While every well is special, this well is extra special as it will be in both Alyssa’s name and in the name of a dear friend, Randy Roberts. For those of you who attended Alyssa’s memorial service, you may recall that Randy spoke. He is the one who wore the superhero t-shirt and told many stories about his and Alyssa’s special relationship. Randy was an elder at our church and a very dear friend to our family. He and Alyssa had such a special bond. He made her laugh often, they had Chinese nicknames and superhero nicknames for each other, they sent each other backward text messages. He made her feel special, valuable, hopeful, and brought great joy to her life.

Sadly, Randy passed suddenly last fall. In his memory, his family generously raised funds for the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund. The fact that this well is going to Kenya is even more special because Randy had an adopted grandson from…….Kenya. Randy was an amazing man and loved by many. You can read his obituary here.

We are honored that Alyssa and Randy not only are hanging out together in Heaven, but will also be memorialized on a plaque together in Kenya. The plaque will read:

“In honor of Alyssa Janae Ferguson and Randall James “Randy” Roberts…
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’ – Isaiah 58:11”

The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund looks forward to sharing with you pictures of the well once it is completed. Thank YOU for being a part of Alyssa’s legacy honoring God and bringing both physical water and living water to people in need. As her fund grows, so will her legacy and her impact. It grows because of your generosity. THANK YOU!

 

Randy and Alyssa

Randy and Alyssa enjoying a baseball game together

Alyssa Ferguson Humanitarian Award Presented

The Alyssa Ferguson Humanitarian Award was presented last week to Miles Menendez, the 2019 recipient at Baines Middle School. The Humanitarian Award was created to honor Alyssa when she had the first water well built in Africa. After her passing, the award was renamed The Alyssa Ferguson Humanitarian Award in her memory.

The recipient is selected by the student council and is given to a student who goes above and beyond in serving the school and community.

The Fergusons were able to be in attendance at the award ceremony and could not be more pleased with the selection of Miles. He is well-known for his servant heart and willingness to help.

Join the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund in congratulating Miles Menendez for this honor.

Miles Humanitarian