In honor and celebration of Alyson Usher
Alyson sparkled with energy and a powerful spirit. At 6 years old, she enjoyed glitter tattoos, Hello Kitty, and entertaining! She loved gymnastics, dance, and softball. Her family fondly referred to her as "Crusher". Alyson is remembered for being wise beyond her years and for her ability to care deeply about others. "It didn't matter if they were older or bigger than her; she had no fear. You could call her fearless. She did not see herself as a little girl; she saw herself as an adult. She was always the advocate for somebody else," her mother reminisces. When Alyson was diagnosed with DIPG, she was only given 6-9 months to live. Exactly one year after her diagnosis, Alyson gained her angel wings in November 2012.
In 2015, it was our honor to welcome Alyson's parents, Alyssa Hawranko and Nick Usher, to The Cure Starts Now family as the Pennsylvania (Western) Chapter. Alyssa recalls, "We were told that there were no effective treatments, and there was nothing more we could do. We were devastated. The following month, we began our work to fund research to prevent other families from the same pain."
In the years since becoming the Pennsylvania (Western) Chapter, their community has united behind their family. With an outpouring of love and generosity, the community has consistently supported events and fundraisers. They host an annual Drive for the Cure Golf Tournament, participate in Relay for Research, Giving First, and more. Their chapter has raised over $361,000 for pediatric brain cancer research. Alyssa also serves as chair of the Strategic Advisory Council.
Alyssa and Nick have turned their pain into purpose. "I will always feel the pain of loss, as no one ever gets over the loss of a child, but I also am overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity that I witness daily that stems from the love and understanding from those wonderful friends and family that help us to build Alyson's legacy." Alyssa wrote. Alyssa and Nick's passion for continuing Alyson’s legacy is inspiring. Devoted to creating a lasting impact as advocates for Alyson and other families affected by DIPG, they want other parents to know, "You are not alone in this fight."
The Cure Starts Now (501c3 Federal Non-Profit) is one of the only cancer foundations dedicated to a “homerun” cure for all cancers, starting first with one of the most deadly and difficult cancers: pediatric brain cancer. Many experts believe that the lessons we learn from fighting pediatric cancer may in fact provide us the critical first step in winning the battle against all forms of cancer, both pediatric and adult.