Alison Elizabeth Gerlach
May 22, 1985-February 2, 2003
Alison Elizabeth Gerlach was in many ways a typical seventeen year old, and like all of us, was also unique in her own way.
Having graduated from Maple West Elementary School and Mill Middle School, she was a Williamsville South senior who eagerly looked forward to a college career at Roberts Wesleyan College.
Spiritually, Ali attended church at the Newman Center at the University of Buffalo's Amherst Campus and felt that her love of God and community was an important aspect of her life.
Athletically, Ali was in many respects a star. Named to the Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division III first-team volleyball team and a member of the Western New York Mizuno Storm travel volleyball team, the Amherst Lightning travel softball team and the Williamsville South bowling team, she excelled in all.
To know Ali, however, was to know a young lady whose interests and imagination were both varied and complex.
A fan of the Food Channel, Ali would spend hours watching her favorite chef, Rachael Ray, and her favorite cooking show, the Two Fat Ladies. She dreamed of someday working in the food industry herself.
Possessing a witty sense of humor, Ali could quote most lines from any Mel Brooks movie, her favorite being "Young Frankenstein." She not only loved comedy but was never short of impersonations of famous characters. In her sandals, white socks and hemp necklace, Ali loved to entertain her friends.
Perhaps you think white socks with sandals is unusual? How about a bedroom littered with teddy bears and decorated with the color purple? Posters covered the ceiling, centered by a movie poster for the Shawshank Redemption. It was vintage Ali.
Rosie O'Donnell, the Dave Matthews Band, the Holocaust, Stewart from Mad TV and the family winter vacation to Anna Maria Island were other interests that seemed to have no relevance to each other, beyond that found in the mind of a vibrant teenage girl.
Ali had a social ease beyond her years and was comfortable in conversation with those far older than her as well as those with physical and mental disabilities. She had the gift of making others comfortable.
That gift was reflected in Ali's most distinguishing characteristic - her smile. She had a smile that could light up a room as she entered and it was almost impossible not to feel better when she was there. More telling, it was a smile that was always present, no matter what the situation.
The day before the Super Bowl of 2003, Ali was struck with a sudden and apparently inexplicable stroke. Four days later, she was diagnosed with Moya Moya disease. This rare disorder, involving blockage of the main arteries and blood vessels to the brain, presently has no known cause or cure. Ali died three days later.
Hundreds of friends and classmates gathered at her Williamsville home for a candlelight ceremony and at the funeral home to honor her memory.
But even after death, Ali lives on because of her gift of organs and life to others. For instance, an eleven year-old girl received her heart, a 40 year old woman received her pancreas and a kidney, her lungs went to a mother of two and her liver went to a 47 year old father. The Gerlach family donated these organs to share the gift of life and to keep other families from enduring the pain they experienced with the loss of Ali.
In life Alison Gerlach brought life and happiness to those she loved. In death she has given life and happiness to many she never knew but who will be forever in her debt. Your contribution today can help preserve Ali's legacy and show your love