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.

Miracle on the Seas

More than one year ago, the Fergusons booked a family cruise to get away and awaited for Spring Break 2019 to arrive so they could sail away on the high seas.  They had a great time but the best part — a miracle on the seas!

One evening, they were sitting outside on the deck of the ship visiting with another couple when a waitress came up to check on everyone. Looking closer, the Fergusons noticed her name tag said she was from Zimbabwe. They told her they had been to her beautiful country and all about the different cities and things they had seen. As the conversation continued, she asked why Zimbabwe? The Fergusons told her Alyssa’s story about her illness, her Make A Wish, and the first water well.

Then the question: “Have you ever heard of the village called Murehwa? That is where the well is.”

The answer: “I am from Murehwa!”

Everyone present started crying. It was a miracle on the seas! Far from Zimbabwe and far from America, in the middle of the ocean on a ship full of thousands, God brought hearts together. Meet Annah from Murehwa….

Annah Breakaway NCL

Alyssa Featured in Living Water International’s Annual Report

Living Water 2018-AnnualReview-CoverAlyssa and the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund were featured in the recently released Living Water International’s 2018 Annual Report. Alyssa’s Fund partnered with Living Water by providing a grant to construct a water well in India. Alyssa’s story and the Fund’s partnership is shared on page 15 of the printed report (page 9 of the PDF electronic report).

An excerpt of the story is below. To see the full report and the photos accompanying the story, go to the Living Water International 2018 Annual Report.

Report excerpt:

ALYSSA: WORLD CHANGER When she was a fifth grader, Alyssa Janae Ferguson read the book “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park. Even at a young age, she was passionate about finding a way to help those suffering from the water crisis. Not long after, such an opportunity arose—though not in the way she imagined.

Just two days after her twelfth birthday, Alyssa was diagnosed with medulloblastoma—a type of brain cancer. She fought hard against the cancer, undergoing multiple surgeries, radiation, many rounds of chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and other treatments. Throughout this battle, her family and friends rallied support with a simple slogan: “Alyssa Wins.” Alyssa’s family often clung to the hope represented by the meaning of her name: “God has answered.” Despite all the hardship, they still trusted that God would provide answers.

During her illness, Alyssa was contacted by the MakeA-Wish® Foundation and offered an experience of her choosing. Alyssa was true to her calling to serve God and humanity. She gave away her wish as a donation to fund the construction of a safe water well for a community in Zimbabwe.

The story of Alyssa’s altruism touched many people’s hearts as it was told in churches throughout the United States. Contemporary Christian artist Matthew West wrote a song for Alyssa called “World Changers.” The lyrics of this song speak volumes about Alyssa’s vision: “From the ends of the earth to your hometown, to the lost, to the hurt, to the broke down, you’re the arms wide open, a love that’s showing every one of us the way…”

Alyssa fought bravely for three years and passed away last year at the age of 15. Her parents established the World Changers Fund in her honor. This fund partners with nonprofit organizations to sponsor the construction and repair of safe water wells. The World Changers Fund partnered with Living Water International to provide a well for a school in India. In the fight to protect children from thirst and waterborne illness, Alyssa won. Because of Alyssa’s vision and her family’s generosity, these students won’t have to suffer from the water crisis anymore.

 

FOX26 News Beautifully Tells Alyssa’s Story After Her Passing

After Alyssa’s passing, FOX26 News beautifully told Alyssa’s story of faith and service.

Watch the story below.

https://w3.cdn.anvato.net/player/prod/v3/anvload.html?key=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

Or read the story and see photos on the Fox26 website.

Make A Wish Water Well Completed

Alyssa was granted a wish from Make A Wish. She could travel anywhere. Do anything. Meet anyone famous. Her choice. She decided to have a well built for a village in Africa. This was inspired by the Matthew West song “Do Something” and the book “A Long Walk To Water” by Linda Sue Park.

Make A Wish generously fulfilled this wish! Now, the village of Murehwa, Zimbabwe has fresh, clean, water flowing from a new well. Thank you, Make A Wish for making Alyssa’s wish come true!

Well with kids