“Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.” Those words were famously spoke by the late Jim Valvano during his 1993 ESPY speech and were proudly carried out by Aly throughout her life.
I met Aly for the first time last year through a good buddy of mine in Witte Hall and the first thing that stood out was her laugh and smile. My gosh, those distinguishable characteristics could fill up the whole room and they could definitely turn your frown upside down. Over the year-and-half that I had the opportunity to get to know her, I never saw her in a bad mood, even though she could have had every reason to. I never saw her complain one bit, despite casual grumblings here and there about the struggles of the Wisconsin football.
Her courageous spirits and glowing personality were not just recognized by myself, but also by others around the country. Before I detail that though, it is essential to let you know Aly was the biggest Justin Bieber you will ever meet. Any song, any style played by Bieber and you could bet Aly was in love with it. Anytime someone has an admiration with a famous individual like Bieber, it would be a dream come true to meet them, right? Well, through the uses of Twitter and Facebook, that dream became a reality. Due in large part to the work of Aly's friends?Katie Broadway and Ariel Arneson?a Twitter campaign called #BiebsMeetAly was launched nationwide in hope of Bieber and his management team recognizing Aly's dream and on December 15, Aly was side-by-side with her favorite singer with her smile beaming like a ray of sunshine.
Some individuals who participated in the Twitter campaign may have not known Aly at all, which just goes to show how much of an impact she had on each and every individual she came in contact with, albeit in vicarious fashion.
Not only was Aly an ecstatic Bieber fan, she was also an avid sports fanatic, especially in the realm of Wisconsin athletics. Throughout her chemotherapy, she had a plethora of support and love within the sports community, as the likes of former Green Bay Packer wide receiver Donald Driver and several members of the Wisconsin basketball team all showed their support through Twitter. Not to mention, she had the distinct privilege of meeting several players on the Chicago Blackhawks, including star player Patrick Kane. Of course, when she had her picture taken with Kane and the others, her smile was wider than Lake Michigan.
I will forever miss Aly. I'll miss cracking jokes to see her cackle for hours. I'll miss talking about sports with her. I'll miss her easy-going personality and, of course, I'll miss her trademark smile. It's hard to fathom why good people have to suffer as Aly did but it really makes you appreciate the gift of life and the unforeseen nature of it. And in the most unforeseen circumstances one could go through, Aly lived life the way it is meant to be lived? with a positive attitude and a constant smile?which I will never forget for the rest of my life. In honor of Aly, I will close with a small verse of her favorite Bieber's song You Smile. “Cause whenever you smile, I smile.”
Rest in peace, Aly.
To honor Aly, there will be an event?Aly's Honky Tonk Hustle 5K Run/Walk?May 18th in McFarland, WI with all proceeds being donated to the American Cancer Society in Aly’s name. Let Rex know if you would like more information.