For the month of March (also known as Irish American Heritage Month) IrishCentral is tapping into the heartbeat of the Irish American community. The Unsung Heroes series features inspiring individuals from across the US who do extraordinary work in their communities and respective fields. From advocates to artists, from local legends to dedicated educators, from a high school baseball team to dynamo nuns in their 80s, these people are making a difference and to them we tip our hats in thanks.
Today’s Unsung Heroes are the baseball and hockey teams at East Boston High School who have touched the hearts of an Irish family and the larger Boston Community by raising and donating money for Irish toddler Alisha Savage, who is battling cancer.
The little Irish girl is fighting a rare form of brain cancer called AT/RT. Her family traveled to Boston from Ireland in the hope that the Dana Farber Cancer Institute could help Alisha, as treatment in Dublin had gone as far as it could.
They have been living in Boston with a host family and say they will stay as long as is necessary.
Representatives at the East Boston High school told IrishCentral that "the little girl’s plight had touched the entire school, from faculty right down through the student body."
The school’s hockey and baseball teams raise money each year for a number of charitable causes. This year, they chose to donate all of the money to Alisha’s medical treatments. “The decision this year was made at the school to donate to the Irish family, as their cause is most worthy,” the representative from the school said.
Alisha was diagnosed with a malignant and aggresive brain tumor. Her condition is very rare, approximately 1 in every 1.1 million children suffer from this condition.
Her plight and need for specialists and ongoing life-saving treatment was what drew attention from the East Boston hockey and baseball teams. When the students heard about Alisha's story then knew they wanted to help.
In a recent TV interview conducted at the high school by 7 News Boston, the head coach Robert Anthony said, "So many of us have been touched by cancer…we came to the decision to donate the money to her."
The teams raise money every year to go towards cancer research, but this year they voted unanimously to give the money to Alisha and her family.
Alisha's parents have been raising funds for the treatment themselves and are not insured, so the donation by the high school students has been a huge blessing. As they are paying for Alisha's treatments out of their own pocket, it's going to be a long and expensive battle.
"We're more than appreciative of the funds and she's gonna need them. Hopefully we can get the result we're all hoping for," said John Savage.
Today’s Unsung Heroes are most deserving, as is this brave little girl fighting for life. Meet Alisha in the heart-warming video below, and visit the Savage family's website to learn more.