Tag Archives: Alyssa Josephine O’Neill

A Little Help From My Friends: Kate McCullough

It’s time for “A Little Help From My Friends.” Kate McCullough and I met while working at a TV station here in Las Vegas. She was a producer. A damn good producer! She left the business to try something new, and she’s loving her job at the Nevada Donor Network.

That's Kate on the right!
That’s Kate on the right!

I’ve been bugging her to write me a blog, and recently, she did! Kate has become one of my very dear friends, and I find the blog she wrote to be very inspiring. You know I’m a  huge believer in social media and how it affects the world. Enjoy Kate’s post!

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Three Little Letters, One Big Message

Dayna asked me over a year ago to write a guest blog. At the time, I had recently changed careers. I left news for a job in the organ donation industry. It seemed like a perfect topic. My job is filled with inspiration. So I started writing. I wrote about the amazing people I had met in the first few months. I wasn’t happy. I changed my concept. Still not happy. It didn’t feel right. I was unable to finish. So I bailed. I have owed Dayna a blog for a long time. And today I finally found the right inspiration… from a young woman I never knew.

#Inspiring
#Powerful
#Beautiful
#Amazing

Each of these words is one I would use to describe a social media movement that started in my hometown of Erie, PA… a movement that started with a tragedy. A few weeks ago, a high school classmate of mine lost her 18-year-old daughter to an epileptic seizure. I didn’t know Alyssa and I didn’t know her mother very well, but I do know that I have never been more amazed by what this family has accomplished in such a short time.

It all started with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Alyssa was planning to try her first one, but never got the chance. Right away, her parents decided that was how they would honor her memory. They went to a local Starbucks and paid for a bunch of Pumpkin Spice Lattes. All they asked in return was for her initials #AJO be written on the cups. It worked. The hashtag started spreading fast. Her parents created a Facebook page, AJO Forever in Our Hearts, a place for people to share their tributes. In just days, the page had reached 20,000 likes. Pictures of pay it forwards in honor of #AJO flooded the page. There were pictures being posted from our hometown and other cities in the U.S. – not long after, pictures from all around the world were being shared.

Jamaica
Jamaica
South Korea
South Korea

I have watched on Facebook as this movement has grown and inspired people worldwide. Family, friends, even strangers were all getting involved in the movement. When I saw this video, it really hit me just how much power is behind that those three little letters. #AJO – a movement that started in Erie, a city most people have never heard of, went global in just days. Turning this kind of negative into something so positive… simply amazing.

London
London

My hope in sharing Alyssa’s story is for others to pay it forward in her honor. Take a moment to learn about epilepsy. Pay the bill for the person behind you in line. Any random act of kindness – do it to honor this young woman and keep her memory alive. Every action, big or small, gives comfort to a grieving family. #AJO