Posted: 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013
There is a whole lot of bad in this world and every once in a while something really bad turns into something good. That seems to be the case with what Alyssa Josephine O'Neill's parents have done since her sudden death in Erie, PA earlier this month.
Despite being diagnosed with epileptic seizures a year earlier, O'Neill seemed determined to not let it stop her from living her life. She graduated from Erie McDowell in the same class as Pitt freshman running back James Conner. O'Neill was to begin the next chapter of her life at Penn State Behrend. On 9/3, O'Neill asked her parents if they could go for a pumpkin spiced latte, as she had never had one and had a craving as fall approached. Jason and Sarah O'Neill said they would go tomorrow. Unfortunately, Alyssa's condition took her away way too early, the very next day.
The O'Neill family decided that they would have that drink and the rest is history. Their message is simple and that is to honor Alyssa by "paying it forward". Paying it forward is simple really. You do something nice for a stranger and they, in turn, do the same for another stranger.
Conner has been running wild this season and he has extra inspiration to do so. He was the pallbearer at Alyssa's funeral and has been keeping his late classmate in his thoughts. The hashtag, #AJO, is catching on and spreading at a rapid pace. The story is amazing and proof that in the darkest of days, you can always create your own brightening. The O'Neill's did just that.