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.

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.

3 Wells Provided in Myanmar

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The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund is excited to announce that three water wells will be established in villages in Myanmar in honor of Alyssa’s legacy. These wells have generously been provided by a private donor. This donor is one whom Alyssa and the Ferguson family met during treatment at MD Anderson. This kind donor and Alyssa became very close and had a special bond. They would see each other frequently as the donor was often at the hospital being a caretaker for their own ill family member.

Myanmar is formerly known as Burma. The construction of each of the three wells is being coordinated by a missionary and each well will be located near a church.

Because of their generosity, water will flow for three more villages in Myanmar and Alyssa’s legacy and dream is that much furthered. Most of all, God is honored.

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.

Fund Established to Provide Water Around World

The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund has been established to honor Alyssa Ferguson upon her birthday. Alyssa’s wish to provide water for those in need has developed into not only a wish fulfilled, but a dream to pursue.

Please donate upon her birthday to help her see that her dream will begin to come true, not only for her, but for millions around the world who dream of fresh water.

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