When she walks into the room it’s as though she brings with her a ray of sunshine. Yes, I know that sounds hokey, but if you met her you’d know what I mean. Her smile is infectious. You feel it and can’t help but smile back. The feeling draws you to her and wraps you up in her warmth.
The first time I saw her was at an outdoor music venue. As the band started up, there she was on the dance floor, swaying to the tune, while her mom helped her stay afloat in her own little lake of happiness. Joy floated around her as the music floated around me.
I wondered what had happened to this beautiful, young, vibrant woman who had her mother by her side to help her walk. Later, I read in a local magazine how she’d collapsed from cardiac arrest, ten years before, at the age of sixteen!
Ivy had been a normal kid according to her mother, Melinda. Ivy had started the Environmental Club at her high school, and she loved to run on the beach with her dog, Biscuit.
After Ivy’s heart malfunctioned, she looked a lot like Snow White, her beautiful face lying perfectly still in a coma in a hospital bed for ten long days. After viewing the MRI and CAT images, doctors told her family she would probably be in a vegetative state the rest of her life: but Ivy evidently had other ideas.
After waking from her long sleep, Ivy had her work set out before her. It took her three months before she began to talk again. She had to regain strength to relearn her motor skills. A year and a half after Ivy collapsed at work, she posted on her blog: “I am walking!!!!”
For a number of years, Ivy had to see a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. Hours were spent relearning all the things the rest of us take for granted. Currently, Ivy is seeing a personal trainer to help her continue to improve her skills. She goes to brain therapy twice a week with Dr. Wayne Miller, of Alternative Neurological Solutions. Ivy works on the Gyrospin to improve her balance. Despite all the hurtles she’s had to rise above physically and mentally, Ivy is ever-diligent in pushing forward.
Most of us have dreams. Many of us don’t discover them until we are well into our adult years, and then even more of us never do follow those dreams or pursue them to see the fruits of our labor. Ivy had a dream as a young teen to own a café. Because of the path her life had taken, she was no longer able to follow that dream. But that hasn’t stopped Ivy.
I want to interject here a few things about the “ivy” plant. It is extremely hardy. If you clip it, it grows back with even more gusto. It doesn’t let walls stop it. Nope, it has the amazing ability to climb right up any surface it meets. Ivy Alvarado, at twenty-six years of age, has the perfect name for her spirit. She’s vibrantly alive with the aptitude to hold on to what she wants, and to grow and move beyond the barriers that come before her.
Currently, Ivy is receiving about $850 a month on disability. This is not enough to support her, nor is her dream in life to live off social security benefits for the rest of her days. Since her mother, Melinda, helps Ivy with daily care, Melinda is not able to bring in an income from a full time job herself.
Ivy has had to alter the dream she had before the heart failure. Taking an entrepreneurial class at Cuesta College gave Ivy a renewed vision of her dream. Ivy realized she could still follow her dream of owning a café but it would now be a health-environment conscious catering service. Most recently, Ivy decided to expand and work toward getting a food truck! By taking this alternate path it will allow Ivy to work and support herself, while also providing healthy food for others to enjoy.
Ivy has started a Go Fund Me account to help raise the money she needs to move forward with her passion of having a food truck. She needs about $115,000 to make her goal a reality.
I believe we are all here to positively impact our world. There are many different ways to do that. Ivy is inspiring with her example of strength and resilience. Let’s be generous and give to her Go Fund Me campaign. Let’s help Ivy become independent and follow her dream of serving delicious, healthy food for others to relish and enjoy.