Working On Walking: From Dreams to Reality

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by Alyssa Silva |

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Alyssa Life One Cup At A Time

I’ve used this space to share little snippets about the nonprofit organization I founded 18 years ago. I’ve shared who was my inspiration behind this foundation and how it all began with one little lemonade stand. Today, I’ll talk about what this organization stands for, and the driving force behind all that I do.

Working On Walking (WOW) was established to raise funds and awareness for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). I planned to donate every cent raised through this organization to SMA research throughout the country. I can still remember sitting at the dining room table with my mom as a child, trying to come up with a name whose acronym could be an actual word. We doodled together, and that’s when WOW came to life.

My goal was simple: I wanted to help others. I wanted to become part of the reason there would be a treatment someday for this disease. At 10 years old, I didn’t know much about fundraising, but there was one thing I was absolutely sure of: We all could make a difference, and no matter how big or small that difference, it would matter.

So, with a whole lot of heart and a freshly sharpened set of colored pencils, I began drawing and coloring at the age of 10. I designed cards and sold them, and this venture lasted for several years. When I entered college, I took time off from fundraising altogether. The workload was already overwhelming, plus my disease was progressing and fatigue was becoming an old friend. However, the itch to fundraise kept prying into the back of mind. Working On Walking, and all it stood for, was slowly whispering for me to come back.

The summer of my sophomore year of college, I jumped back into the world of fundraising, this time with the help of my best friend’s mother. We established an annual golf and dinner fundraiser, and with the success of it over the last several years, we have turned the dinner into an evening gala.

Working On Walking isn’t a one-woman show. In fact, it is the culmination of movers and shakers who selflessly and generously dedicate themselves to supporting a cause so very near and dear to a girl’s heart. If there’s one important lesson I’ve learned throughout this journey, it’s that when helping hands of many people meet the opportunity to do something that’s bigger than themselves, remarkable things will happen.

These helpers are my inspiration. They are the reason for WOW’s success and the driving force behind this organization. They are the reason I consider myself lucky.

Today, Working On Walking has grown into something so much more than I could ever have imagined, but one thing will always remain the same: Every ounce of effort poured into this organization has and forever will be done out of love and the faith of knowing that we can conquer this disease.


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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