Webster Teen Forgoes Potential Fund-raising Career to Study Medicine

July 11, 2002

Still reveling in the success of a fund-raiser she organized to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, Ashley Amalfi is turning her attention to a career in medicine.

Amalfi, of Webster, spent much of her senior year at Our Lady of Mercy High School organizing a dance marathon to benefit Golisano Children’s Hospital, where her sister has been a patient for many years. Amalfi, 18, co-president of the student council, enlisted the help of friends, family, and businesses to make the inaugural event a success.

The dance marathon was held from 8 p.m. Friday, March 8, to 8 a.m. Saturday, March 9, at the Medical Center Athletic Club. More than 250 students attended, dancing for 12 hours to raise money through pledges they’d collected. The event helped raise $11,500 for the area’s only children’s hospital, far exceeding the expectations of Amalfi, who was hoping to raise $3,000.

To promote the dance marathon, Amalfi held an assembly at her school and explained how their support of the event would make a difference. “I showed a video that was made about my sister, and how Golisano Children’s Hospital has helped her and our family,” she says. “Everyone was crying. They were all gung-ho to help the hospital. For months, that’s what I worked on every day after school. The week of the dance, I don’t think I ate a meal. I’m proud to have had a chance to be so involved.”

Amalfi’s sister, Alissa, 9, has what doctors think is a one-of-a-kind condition that causes a failure to thrive. “My parents visited with specialists at Boston Children's Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, the Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins University,” Amalfi says. “Eventually, our family came back to Golisano Children’s Hospital because we realized the diagnosis made here was the right one.”

Amalfi, who graduated from Mercy High on June 26, will attend George Washington University in Washington, D.C., this fall. She’s enrolled in the pre-med biology program and is interested in becoming a craniofacial plastic surgeon. “I’ve wanted to get involved in medicine since I was 9 years old, when Alissa was born, Amalfi says. “She is the entire reason for my desire to become a doctor.”

In order to see medicine practiced first-hand last summer, Amalfi shadowed Joseph Losee, M.D., pediatric craniofacial/cleft surgeon at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “It was amazing to see the kids come in for an initial visit, and then see the change that was evident after they had surgery,” she says. “I want to make that kind of difference in a child's life.”

Amalfi is the daughter of Michael and Kathy Amalfi, of Webster. Michael Amalfi is a member of the Golisano Children’s Hospital Board of Directors.

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