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Coffee for Alyssa

Coffee for Alyssa

#AJO is the hashtag that is circling the globe. It stands for Random Acts of Kindness in honor of the loss of Alyssa O’Neill.

TayloyandChuck

This morning, EpilepsyU was surprised with Coffee by Theresa and Taylor Merriam

On the last day of her life, Pennsylvania teenager Alyssa O’Neill texted her parents with a simple request: That they take her for a pumpkin spiced latte the next day.

But on Sept. 4, the 18-year-old died of an epileptic seizure, just a year after being diagnosed with the condition.

Two days after the funeral for their eldest of their four children, Jason and Sarah O’Neill decided to pay it forward in her memory.

At a Starbucks in Erie, Penn., the O’Neills bought pumpkin spiced lattes for 40 people, asking that the hashtag #AJO, for Alyssa Josephine O’Neill, be written in purple marker on the cups.


“We told the manager why, and all the employees were moved, so they all donated drinks until we had bought drinks for 90 people,’’ Jason O’Neill told TODAY.com.

Thanks to social media, the small act of kindness spread and has inspired strangers to honor Alyssa at coffee shops across the world.

“My wife and I have said the words, ‘amazing,’ ‘awesome,’ and ‘magical’ more than we ever have in our entire lives. We never thought it would spread like this,” Jason said. “We’re still in disbelief, and every time we think, ‘There’s no way they can top this,’ something more amazing happens.”

The memory of the upbeat and giving nature of Alyssa O'Neill has led to strangers committing acts of kindness toward one another across the world.

AJO Forever Fund
Alyssa O’Neill’s upbeat and giving nature has inspired strangers to perform acts of kindness across the world.

Alyssa, a high school cheerleader who was preparing to enter freshman year at The Behrend College, aspired to be a nurse to help others with epilepsy.

“Her death was a complete shock,’’ Jason said. “We were driving her to school every day because she couldn’t drive as a result of her condition, and we thought that by having her at home, we could keep her as safe as possible. It still didn’t work out as we wanted it to.”

People have posted #AJO photos from as far away as Afghanistan, Italy, Iceland, China, and Sri Lanka, he said. The Facebook page “AJO Forever in our Hearts’’ has more than 20,000 likes, and #AJO has gone viral on Twitter and beyond.

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9 Comments

  1. It is not a good idea to drink caffeine ever if you have epilepsy it causes seizures. I’ve eliminated all caffeine in my daughters diet she has epilepsy.

    Reply
    • Hey Sherry ever heard of decaf??? This beautiful young woman is gone from this earth and THAT is all you can say? I hope you never feel the loss of your child like the O’Neill’s are feeling, but if you do I pray for you that people offer you condolences rather than criticism in your time of mourning. And by the way, the legacy of AJO is to pay it forward. In case you missed that part.

    • *Thumbs up*

  2. Totally COOL

    Reply
  3. I’m hope it gave some little bit of comfort seeing people step up <3 My thoughts go out to all of Alyssa's Family…

    Reply
  4. Wow, this is just great!! Thank you so much for sharing…. my name is Amanda and I am helping out with some things surrounding #AJO as well as the management of the website- I will be reblogging this today and sharing! Thanks again.. feel free to contact me anytime. Have an amazing day 🙂

    http://www.ajoforever.com

    Reply
    • Profile photo of EpilepsyU

      Thanks so much Amanda for you note. My name is Chuck and I am the founder of EpilepsyU.com and the Director of the Epilepsy Association of Central Fl. They mother that came by this morning has friend that moved up your way. I understand that Alyssa was helping with children’s cheer-leading? Her friends daughter was one of the girls. It is a small world. Taylor in the picture has uncontrolled seizures and we got her a seizure dog a few years ago.

      You are all doing a wonderful thing to honor Alyssa and for epilepsy awareness. Let me know if we can help in any way.

      Chuck Carmen

  5. Friends often have questioned my coffee drinking, but I have mostly told them that it balances out the side effects of the meds I have to take!

    Reply
  6. Awesome story.

    Reply

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