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Car crash survivor, 9, raises thousands for hospital that cared for her

Alyssa Lodge survived the crash that claimed the lives of her brother and sister. Now she is giving back to the hospital that helped her recover from her injuries

The Guelph community was shaken by the tragic car crash that claimed the lives of two out of three children in the Lodge family earlier this year. 

Now the surviving child, nine-year-old Alyssa, has raised nearly $5,000 by selling cookies in her neighbourhood for McMaster Children's Hospital, where she was cared for.

“I felt like I was in the hospital for a year even with all the stuff I was getting,” said Alyssa.

“I was given pyjamas, colouring stuff, toys so I wouldn’t get bored. They even let me watch a movie on the screen. So I wanted to bake cookies so they can get more of these things for the other children.”

She said by baking, selling and delivering a dozen chocolate chip cookies for $10, she will buy pyjamas, clothes, toothbrushes, pencil crayons and stuffed toys for other children. So far, she raised $4,795. 

On Jan 31, four members of the Lodge family, children Evan (12) Amanda (11), Alyssa (eight at the time) and mother Susan were driving back home to Guelph from a ski trip when their car was struck by a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old driver, killing Evan on the scene and sending Alyssa and Amanda to the hospital. Amanda later succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.

The community held a lantern memorial for Evan and Amanda at Taylor Evans Public School in early February to pay their respects. 

“We've had lots of people going for walks with us and bringing us meals and even just reaching out with texts and cards and things like that so that's made a huge difference to feel the support of the community. We're all receiving counselling, which is helpful,” said Susan. 

Alyssa had broken bones in her pelvis and ribs, suffered a concussion and was bedridden. 

"As soon as she was up on her feet and able to walk about the hospital, and saw other kids were there, she began to think of ways to give back," said Susan adding that on Mother’s Day, the family was able to have a conversation with Alyssa who insisted she didn’t want to wait till she was older to be able to do something for the community.

Susan also focused on the cookie idea instead of the grief that she was only getting one Mother’s Day card that day. 

Getting emotional when speaking about her daughter Alyssa, Susan said as a mother, she feels proud. 

“Seeing her and thinking of others, lets me know that she's doing okay,” said Susan. 

“I used to see these kinds of stories, and I used to think to myself that it must be the parents driving their kid into it or whatever.”

Susan said the family put cookie information on a flyer and distributed it in her neighbourhood after Mother’s Day. But the response was overwhelming. People began ordering hundreds of cookies. While the flyers were only distributed to the neighbourhood, the word got out and orders from relatives and colleagues of those in the neighbourhood came pouring in. 

“My principal ordered 35 dozen which is $350 and he was giving a bag to each teacher and now we just figured out we got an order for 36 dozen from Waterloo police,” said Alyssa. 

“And another Waterloo police (officer), he ordered a dozen which was supposed to be $20 but he gave me $555 and he was supposed to give me $20!”

Alyssa said she also wanted to give cookies to her physiotherapist who would help her walk while she was in the hospital. 

“Now that I’m better and I’m out of my wheelchair, I'm able to jump up and down and drop from heights like if I was on the monkey bar and I dropped from it, then I would be fine. Before I couldn’t do that and I can now climb a tree,” said Alyssa. 

Susan said the family is not taking any more orders but will likely do something annually to raise money in memory of Evan and Amanda. She said the incident will likely affect Alyssa at different points in her life when she realizes the significance of losing her siblings.  

“It's just such a massive shift. She went from being the youngest of three to being an only child. It's such a massive shift. She's lost her two best friends,” said Susan.

“Because of this loss in her life, seeing her do this has helped me to see that it's possible that this has shaped her in a positive way. There are good things potentially that can come out of this and that. Possibly this will make her a better and a stronger person. It's amazing to me that she did take something so horrific and turned it into something so, so wonderful.”

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Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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