Granite Shoals honors Alyssa Flores as Make-A-Wish recipient takes spotlight

Contributed

Singer/actress Selena Gomez welcomes Alyssa Flores of Granite Shoals to her June concert in Austin. Meeting the star was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Friends for Wishes in honor of Alyssa's fight against leukemia.

Glynis Crawford Smith

The HIghlander

One of Granite Shoals youngest citizens was honored as “a champion in fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)” by the Granite Shoals City Council Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Seven-year-old Alyssa Flores accepted the fanfare with the poise of any celebrity. After all, she already had spent an evening with Selena Gomez.

Alyssa is the first local child to have been granted a dream come true by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That wish was to meet the actress and singer, whose hits include “Love You Like A Love Song” and “Come and Get It.”

“She was going to choose a swim with dolphins,” said Kathrin Brewer, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Austin. “But they were driving past the Long Center in Austin and saw that Selena Gomez was playing. She said she absolutely wanted that more than anything.”

The wheels of the foundation moved quickly and, on June 17, Alyssa and her family were taken by limousine for a day of pampering, a stay in a top hotel and a night at the Selena Gomez concert.

“Alyssa's favorite movie is 'The Princess Protection Plan' with Selena Gomez,” said the first-grader's mother, Crystal Olivas. “She was shy at first and looked like, 'I can't believe I'm here with her,' but she had a gift for Selena. They sat right down on the floor, hugging and talking. She loved it.”

Olivas admitted to fear for her daughter on May 24, 2015, when the family heard the ALL diagnosis.

“I was already expecting her sister, but I didn't tell anyone,” she said. “I was more worried about taking care of Alyssa.”

Treatment has gone well, however.

“Alyssa still goes for treatment every two to four weeks,” said Olivas. “It depends on her immune system, but she hasn't been in the hospital since the end of July.

“She gets to go to school at Highland Lakes Elementary and she loves that. She has her moments of fear, but she tries not to show them. She just wants to be one of the kids.”

As Alyssa's family looked on, Mayor Carl Brugger formally introduced her to each member of the council and city staff, and the gift he presented was a pair of magnetized photos from Alyssa's meeting with Selena Gomez and her trip to a spa for a pedicure.

“On behalf of the City Council, I honor Alyssa and her fight with ALL, and thank her, the Make-A-Wish organization, Friends for Wishes and the many volunteers and sponsors who participated in the Wish Experience of this precious young citizen.”

Established in 1980, when leukemia still was a lethal diagnosis, the Make-A-Wish Foundation became associated with granting dying wishes. Today, however it honors the bravery of children with all kinds of life-threatening diseases and buoys their spirits through more and more successful fights like Alyssa's back to health.

Friends for Wishes is an organization that supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation and three of its board members are local residents.

“I am on the executive board of Friends,” said Lynn Smith of Highland Haven. “We started out in Houston three years ago with two fundraisers, a barbecue cook-off and a wine tasting. The first year we raised $50,000; last year, $60,000, and this year we made $90,000, all for Make-A-Wish.

Tommy Fogel from Lometa is one of Alyssa's sponsors and Brenda Weems from the Friends organization lives in Highland Haven as well. They added two more board members, Teri Brinson and Karen Larsen, as sponsors and money was channeled from Friends to Austin Make-A-Wish for Alyssa's big date with a star.

“The Granite Shoals city manager, Ken Nickel and his wife Cara live across from me,” said Smith. “I knew we could do this (night) because of Ken and Cara.”

In addition to Brewer and Alyssa's sponsors and family, three more representatives of Friends for Wishes were present—Chaille Voelkel, president and Norman Walker, vice president.

 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet