Just three weeks ago, an 18-year-old girl in Erie, Pennsylvania named Alyssa Josephine O’Neill wanted to go to Starbucks with her mom but she suddenly died from an epileptic seizure.
Alyssa never got to taste her first pumpkin spice latte but, after the deadly seizure, her parents decided to buy 40 of the sweet, warm drinks for strangers, paying it forward in loving memory — with her initials scribbled on the cup, #AJO.
As a result, some Starbucks employees joined in and a campaign was born. Using the same hashtag #AJO, people from as far away as Korea, Iceland and India are buying coffees for strangers, writing #AJO in loving memory.
“There are not many other diseases where you can just be walking down the street, fall over… and possibly die,” her father told WSEE News. “That’s the worry we dealt with every day.”
Billboards designed with #AJO #Paying it forward #Epilepsy awareness are being erected in several states, always colored purple as a symbol of the epilepsy research.
22,000 people have engaged on a Facebook page where photos of coffee cups and signs are shared. Thousands of photos have been tagged with #AJO on Instagram. Her parents have been amazed at the outpouring of love and enthusiasm — all stemming from buying a few pumpkin spice lattes for strangers, in their daughter’s name. New fundraisers are planned in their hometown to raise money for research.
(WATCH the video below or READ the story from TODAY)
Thanks to Jen Weindorf for sending the links!