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.

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 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.

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

Haiti Water Well Dedicated

IMG_1026

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!

IMG_1024

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.