GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) – This time of year always brings out the best and generosity in people. However, long before the holidays rolled around, a Mathews County teacher was doing a very generous deed. She was raising money to help a disabled woman, one sweet treat at a time.
They’ve had loads of bake sales, garage sales, raising one bit at a time. Mathews County 3rd grade School Teacher Amy Ashberry goes on mission trips in foreign countries all the time helping the poor, then she realized the most important mission trip was in her own backyard.
It was November 22, 2000. A terrible crash in Oklahoma. At age 6, Alyssa Briggs life got interrupted forever by a violent car crash.
“I didn’t feel anything,” she said. “I just remember saying ‘why can’t I feel my legs?’ ”
Her spinal cord was cut in half, she was left a paraplegic with no use of her legs. “I am thankful for my family, that they are safe and healthy. We are definitely blessed. We had a guardian angel watching over us,” Alyssa told WAVY News at her Gloucester County home.
Fifteen years later, in August, Amy Ashberry a 3rd grade teacher at Lee Jackson Elementary in Mathews County set up ‘Faith in Wheels. A mission for Alyssa to raise money to buy her a handicapped accessible van she can drive with her hands.
Ashberry told WAVY how she came up with the name ‘Faith in Wheels,’ “We definitely wanted the name faith in it because that is Alyssa’s middle name, and we have faith to raise funds for this, so we have ‘Faith in Wheels.'”
Amy keeps a log of all those who have given one way or another. There was the yard sale. “We had the biggest yard sale we ever had, and raised over $2000,” she said.
They sold raffle tickets, had bake sales, reached out to churches and businesses. “We had children at the middle school and they initiated a change war to see who among the grade levels could raise the most change.”
Amy will stop at nothing to help a friend. There are pictures of her dressed up in crazy outfits to build enthusiasm to give to the cause. She has an album tracking all they’ve done. She was pointing at a picture with her dressed up, “That’s when I was selling raffle tickets at the homecoming parade. I’m in a crazy outfit. I am the one who is known as the one who dresses up for every occasion.”
WAVY asked Alyssa to put into words what the new van would mean to her, “This van will do so much for me. It’s just the little things that mean the most to me. I want to be able to pick up my brother from school, take him fishing, get him ice cream. I want to volunteer at the hospital to help injured kids…there’s so much I want to do.”
Alyssa needs to go beyond her home, and Amy sums up this community effort in a way that should inspire us all, “There are so many things we take for granted. We go to work. We go to school. We go to the post office. We don’t think about that, but Alyssa makes us step back and realize that.”
The community has already raised $12,000 for Alyssa. They need $45,000 for the van and their aggressive efforts continue.