To celebrate #OTMonth and recognize our amazing therapists, CRA would like to share stories and experiences as told by our OT professionals. Marie Goodman, COTA/L, who works in the School District of Lee County, shares a moving story about one student that has remained near and dear to her heart for over 18 years.
Here is Marie and Alyssa’s story:
“During the summer of 1997 I was assigned to provide Alyssa Silva OT services at her home to maintain her range of motion (ROM) and fine motor skills. Alyssa was 9 years old with beautiful brown eyes, long brown hair and an infectious personality bigger than life.
Alyssa was confined to a wheelchair due to her disability of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). That summer we would do typical ROM exercises and other activities. We hit if off right from the first visit, and we both looked forward to seeing each other twice a week.
On my last visit to Alyssa’s house that summer she surprised me with a beautiful thank you card. It was a picture of a yellow lab. I was shocked to see this drawing and even more amazed that she had drawn and colored it herself. I was so impressed with the card that I suggested she should start making greeting cards. Alyssa was always trying to raise money for her disability, hoping for a cure.
I asked Alyssa how much she thought she would raise for SMA, she simply stated $100. I told her she was going to make a whole lot more than that. That was the beginning of a career path for Alyssa. I continued to be her therapist until she graduated from high school, with honors no less. She then applied to Bryant University and upon her acceptance she had to write a personal statement letter about a person that inspired her. I was honored and humbled that she chose me, while all along this journey I was the one that was inspired by her. Alyssa never gave in to her disability and was able to capitalize on her abilities instead.
Alyssa is now the CEO of her own Greeting Card /Calendar Company and has raised over $100,000 dollars for SMA. In addition, she has hosted 5 annual golf fundraisers, breaking the amount she is able to raise and send to SMA each year. This journey has helped her find her passion. Alyssa has a website titled W.O.W – Working on Walking, she is also a writer for the Huffington post.”
Thank you, Marie, for sharing this story and the value of Occupational Therapy and thank you, Alyssa, for being such a strong advocate for SMA.
To read a 2013 speech Alyssa wrote about Marie, titled “My True North”, click here .
To learn more about Spinal Muscular Atrophy, please visit Cure SMA’s website.