Return to mobile version

Alyssa Has the Heart of a Soldier

“ Alyssa becomes the hero she dreamed to be. ”

Combined Federal Campaign Designate #11375 in the Combined Federal Campaign and help grant wishes

Alyssa flexes her boots against the wood panels and grasps the rope tighter. Forty feet separate her and the ground. The only thing between is a rope and open air. One deep breath. She pushes off and begins to descend.

This is the top of Victory Tower at Fort Jackson and the pinnacle of Alyssa’s lifelong wish to become a soldier in the U.S. Army. She knows she has to make it down the rope to complete basic training. Cystic fibrosis won’t stop her. And this obstacle won’t stop her.

The Desire to Serve

Alyssa was 7 years old when her uncle joined the Army. She admired the uniform, the badges, the courage. She wanted to be like him.

But in 2009, Alyssa was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, and her dream suddenly became much more distant. Because of the Department of Defense’s medical restrictions, Alyssa’s condition made her ineligible to join the Army.

Alyssa was devastated. So when she was offered a wish, she knew she had to choose something that would be impossible without help from Make-A-Wish, a wish that ran deep: to serve in the Army.

Training Time

Thirteen months after making her wish, Alyssa travelled to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for a week of basic training. She took the Oath of Enlistment and was issued a uniform; and with that, Alyssa was officially an enlisted soldier in training. The next day started at 5:30 a.m. Along with the 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, she did everything from mastering the obstacle course to practicing her marksmanship at the simulated rifle range.

Alyssa and her older sister, Chessa, who has plans of her own to join the Army, completed the training together. And though the drills challenged her, they gave her a true taste of life in the Army. The most daunting task? Gazing down from the top of Victory Tower. It only took a moment for Alyssa to gather her courage and repel down the 40-foot vertical drop … but in her words, “I just did it.”

After several days of training, Alyssa proved herself a true soldier. She stood with 1,000 fellow soldiers and graduated, fulfilling her wish.

The Heart of a Soldier

Once Alyssa’s boots touched the ground at the base of Victory Tower, she knew that she could surmount any obstacle – even her cystic fibrosis.

“When I saw those two drill sergeants helping her harness what she had inside, I had every confidence in the world she’d complete everything,” Col. Drew Meyerowich told “It’s not about being physically fit; it’s having the heart to be a soldier.”

As a basic training graduate and cystic fibrosis survivor, Alyssa has truly become the hero she dreamed to be. And her admiration for the men and women who serve in the military has grown since living her ultimate wish. “They’re really inspiring. I always knew that they were, but being here makes me see they are even more inspiring than I imagined,” Alyssa said.

  • Alyssa gets her uniform.

  • Alyssa arrives for her Army experience.

  • Alyssa and her family

  • Now it’s time for the fun to begin.

  • Fort Jackson is eager for Alyssa to arrive.

  • Alyssa gets an enthusiastic welcome.

  • Alyssa gets some help sorting through all her new gear.

Join the conversation

This story makes me feel

Leave a Comment

Go behind-the-scenes of Make-A-Wish with the Wish Nation Blog.

Hear directly from those who work or volunteer here, or those who have been transformed by a wish.

Read Wish Nation blog posts

Read more Wish Stories that were granted with the help of our Military.

Find more stories

Join the conversation

Leave a Comment


June 25, 2012 - 11:25 AM

Bruce P.


I am in awe for your courage and determination. You can do anything you set your heart to do.
May our Lord Jesus Christ Bless you. AMEN

October 05, 2014 - 8:12 PM

Amazing Grace

You are beautiful inside and out. Your courage is amazing! AMEN

October 08, 2014 - 4:44 PM


May Christ bless you!

October 10, 2014 - 6:29 AM


I love it that this girl's ONE TRUE WISH was to serve. It's amazing that she wishes to serve her country. Thank you for your service sweetheart.

October 15, 2014 - 3:55 PM


Many people would have wished for something else to benefit them selves, as for you wanted to hep serve for the rest of us. God bless you.

October 16, 2014 - 4:48 PM

Jonathan D.

Hey I have the same illness and I also wanted to join either army or military but I couldn't wish I could have made the wish you made but I was 13 years old when I made mine and I didn't realize that how much I wanted to be in the military or army until I got into high school I am 22 years old now and really wished I waited to make my wish. Hope you have an awesome wish.

November 04, 2014 - 3:10 PM

edith m.

WOW that's amazing

December 16, 2014 - 10:06 AM


God bless you Alyssa........Aim beyond the sky

January 26, 2015 - 9:33 PM


Stay Strong and Aim for the Sky, Alyssa

April 13, 2015 - 9:48 AM


Alyssa, (also my daughter's name) ...
May you continue to be blessed and bless those you are in contact with throughout the rest of your life. You definitely have the heart of a soldier and the strength of a warrior. Stay strong and positive ... you are a force to be reckoned with. ♡

April 19, 2015 - 11:38 AM