This beautiful little 10-year-old and her courageously supportive family are a constant reminder to me of the importance positivity and unconditional love.
Flashback: A girl with a dream
I met Ali three summers ago at the pool I used to lifeguard at. She was a nervous little pipsqueak who could barely make it across the width of the pool without feeling out of breath. She came in each morning determined to pass the swim test so she could play with the “big kids” in the deep end, although we all knew she was not quite strong enough to keep herself afloat. Regardless of how tired she was or how defeated she felt, she tried her luck at the swim test every single day of the summer.
Flash forward: Finding her dream team
Three years later, her persistence has finally paid off. Aliana has not only passed the swim test (multiple times, might I add), but is now a confident (and super fast) swimmer. She has recently joined her town’s competitive swim team and has also been granted an incredible opportunity through Team Impact to be an honorary member of the Wesleyan college swim team. Did I mention she’s 10? Sufficiently impressed.
See, one thing I failed to mention is that Ali suffers from an exhausting immune disorder called common variable immunodeficiency, which impairs her immune system. Each month, she receives a daylong infusion which fills her little body with healthy human immunoglobulin cells. She has had to undergo 23 infusions on her journey thus far.
The diagnosis of a chronic disease is a terrifying nightmare for anyone, especially a child. But Ali is a spitfire who, with the help of her support system, is willing to brave it all. She won’t let anything, especially an immune disorder, get in the way of her dreams and ambitions. It’s children like Aliana that should inspire us to wake up every day and refuse to let fear drive our every move.
Be the change
I encourage you to let Aliana’s story have an impact on the way you go about your day. Share her story & consider donating to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the non-profit organization that keeps Aliana healthy and feeling like the world is always at her finger tips.