18-year-old Alyssa Josephine O’Neill was a super cute cheerleader who loved life and pumpkin spice lattes. She was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2012, but planned to attend college this fall. Before leaving, she wanted nothing more than her first pumpkin spice latte (or PSL to us veterans) of the season. On September 3, Alyssa texted her
ATM service parents asking for her very first and sure to be life-changing PSL. Unfortunately, Alyssa had a seizure and passed away the next day, and never had a chance to have her liquid dream fulfilled.
Alyssa’s parents turned this heartbreaking moment into an opportunity. In their daughter’s honor, they purchased pumpkin spice lattes for the next 40 customers who ordered them, asking baristas to write Alyssa’s initials #AJO on the cups, hoping patrons would pay their free lattes forward and help spread the word.
As you can imagine, Alyssa’s story struck a chord in the hearts of PSL lovers everywhere, and the movement has spread like crazy. Since then, people have been “paying it forward” with PSLs at coffee shops all across the globe. No records have come out with the exact number of lattes donated, but there have been reports of PSL donations worth several hundred dollars from groups and individuals. They’ve led the #AJO campaign to spread worldwide.
Whether it’s donating money, some of your time, or one of the best lattes to ever exist, there’s nothing more rewarding than doing something to help brighten someone else’s day. I’ve been inspired to take a few minutes out of my day, and a few dollars out of my bank account to spread a little joy and espresso. Don’t forget to hashtag #AJO on your cup to spread awareness for a great cause. And who knows? Maybe your next latte will be free (as if you needed an extra incentive to pick one up).
Making the world a better place, PSL in hand. It’s a TSM.
To learn more about the campaign, head over to ajoforever.com.
Image via AJOforever