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.

Community Impact Newspaper Shares Story About the Naming of Alyssa Ferguson Elementary

Community Impact Newspaper published a story about the naming of the new Alyssa Ferguson Elementary. The original story follows:

Fort Bend ISD board of trustees names new elementary school after student who died

The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees stand with Scott and Sandy Ferguson (center), whose daughter, Alyssa Ferguson, died in 2017 after a battle with medulloblastoma and now has a new elementary school named after her. (Courtesy Fort Bend ISD)
The Fort Bend ISD board of trustees stand with Scott and Sandy Ferguson (center), whose daughter, Alyssa Ferguson, died in 2017 after a battle with medulloblastoma and now has a new elementary school named after her. (Courtesy Fort Bend ISD)

Author: Community Impact Newspaper Hunter Marrow | 4:30 PM Apr 12, 2022 CDT

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In a unanimous vote, the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees has named a new elementary school after one of the district’s former students.

The elementary school, scheduled to open in fall 2023 at 1300 Heritage Park Drive, Missouri City, is named after Alyssa Ferguson, who died in January 2017 as a freshman at Ridge Point High School after a battle with medulloblastoma, a brain cancer, according to an April 11 FBISD agenda report.

Ferguson, who lived in the Sienna community, was first diagnosed with the cancer while enrolled at Baines Middle School at the age of 12, according to an April 11 news release from the school district.

The naming comes due to Ferguson’s character and sense of giving while in the midst of her battle with cancer, according to the district’s news release. When asked what wish she wanted to receive from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ferguson replied, “The only reason I got this wish is because I got sick. I should use it to help someone. I didn’t earn it.”

Instead, Ferguson used her wish to dig a well in a village in Zimbabwe that did not have access to clean water. Since then, eight wells have now been dug because of the mission Ferguson started, according to the news release.

Per board policy, FBISD established a committee to select a name for the new school in early 2022; the committee was comprised of teachers, parents, community representatives and district staff along with FBISD Board President Dave Rosenthal and FBISD Board Member Kristin Malone.

“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,” Rosenthal said in the news release.

Ahead of the school opening in fall 2023, Carla Patton will serve as the school’s principal beginning in January 2023. Patton was named the school’s principal by the district’s board of trustees on April 11.

Link to original story above can be found here.

Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day that follows a season of being thankful, a day of shopping like crazy in the stores, and a day of shopping online for great deals. But the best deal of all is to express gratitude through helping others. If you haven’t made a gift to the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund this year, please do so today. We are grateful for every gift of every size. There are 8 water wells already due to your generosity. Eight wells have transformed whole villages with clean water, education, agriculture, and health! Will you join us today with your gift to build the next water well and honor Alyssa’s memory? 

Make your gift today!

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

Haiti Water Well Dedicated

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The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund is pleased to announce the completion of a new water well on the outskirts of Mirebalais, Haiti. A well dedication ceremony was hosted by Hope for Haiti’s Children, the Fund’s partner for this project.

The new water well is located next to a K-9 school where 205 children attend (99 of these are sponsored by Hope for Haiti’s Children). It is also located next to a church of 150 people.

The well is in the perfect location as the community comes together to receive food for the mind at school, living water for the soul at church, and fresh clean water for drinking, bathing, and cleaning.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund. Because of your generosity — God is being praised, Alyssa’s dream is being realized, and these Haitian people are receiving clean and safe water!

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Fergusons Visit First Well

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Today, the Ferguson family visited the well in Murehwa, Zimbabwe. The plan had always been for the family to go together after Alyssa got better. After her passing, the family still wanted to go and visit the first well that started the dream.

From the Ferguson Facebook page: “How do we describe today, the day we went to the village to see the very first well that began Alyssa’s dream and legacy of bringing water to people in need? Amazing. The school children, teachers, local pastor, and village chief gathered with us at the well. They were told Alyssa’s story in their Shona language. Scott, Sandy, and Jenna each had a chance to speak. There was a ceremonial pumping of the well. The children sang and performed traditional dances. We shared lunch together. We had a private time with just the three of us around the well. We shared tea in a kitchen hut. But most of all, God was praised by the children, teachers, and Alyssa’s story. They are keeping a picture of Alyssa and using her story to teach the children that they too can make a difference. There is no electricity, yet tons of energy. Emotional yet powerful day.”

THANK YOU for being a part of the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund.

Zim well pumping

Documentary About Alyssa Wins People’s Choice Award

A documentary by Ridge Point High School students Kaitlin Catuiza, Kathleen Cruz, and Sneha Joseph earned the People’s Choice Award and also tied for First Place Documentary at the third annual Fort Bend ISD Film Festival. “World Changers: The Alyssa Ferguson Story” focuses on the legacy that freshman Ferguson left behind after losing her battle to cancer last year. The documentary also won first prize in its category. The Fergusons were deeply touched by the film and grateful to these students for telling Alyssa’s story in such a powerful way. Congratulations, girls!

Water Well in India Now Completed

India pic website

The newest water well is now complete! This well was funded in partnership with the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund (www.alyssasfund.com) and the Vacation Bible School children from the Fergusons’ church at First Colony and Living Water International. The well is in a small village in India. While they sometimes had government water, it often ran dry, leaving the middle school with no water for months for cleaning, cooking, or toileting (they would just go outside to use the restroom on the school grounds since no water). They now have running water, and each home that uses the water is paying a small fee each month to build up a reserve so they can maintain the well and own it as a community, thus ensuring it’s longevity. We are excited about the completion of this well, and for furthering Alyssa’s legacy and dream.