"Can't" is a word that is not in the vocabulary of 17-year-old Aly Fisher.
The Cape High junior suffers from girdle-limb muscular dystrophy, but that hasn't stopped her from taking a full course load at Cape and college classes at Wilmington University – or from becoming a top fundraiser for the regional Muscular Dystrophy Association at the annual Muscle Walk in King of Prussia, Pa.
Ever since attending her first Muscle Walk in 2009, Aly has made fundraising a priority, said her mother, Cecily Fisher.
On Sunday, March 30, more walkers than ever showed up for the Muscle Walk and Aly's Cats took top fundraising honors, raising $13,800 to fund research and outreach in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.
"This is an event that Aly puts her whole heart into. She starts early," Cecily said. "This year, we started before Christmas. The moment you can begin fundraising, she sends out her Facebook messages and starts getting people excited about it."
Each year, Aly has been able to meet or exceed her own expectations for the fundraiser, Cecily said. This year, she sold T-shirts and bracelets and had great success collecting sponsorships and private donations through social media, her mother said.
"Aly raised $8,600 last year so we raised it to a goal of $10,000, and she blew it out the roof," she said.
Aly is living life in a wheelchair because of her rare condition, which typically affects the muscles in her shoulders and hips. Still, Cecily said, once her daughter sets her sights on a dream, she is unstoppable.
Aly takes a full course load at Cape High, college courses at Wilmington University and she has been named the North American Goodwill Ambassador for the Tall Cedars branch of the Freemasons, who are also active in supporting the MDA.
Her activism with the Muscle Walk is a way for Aly to feel like she's contributing to the programs and research that may help find a cure, she said.
Aly said her condition stops her from participating in some activities, but when she really wants something, typically she can find a way.
"I have weakened muscles, and I’m in a wheelchair. It kind of limits me from doing everyday activities," she said. The Muscle Walk provides a great opportunity for fellowship and fun, Aly said, and even without the honors, fundraising with family and friends to find a cure is always a good time.
"It's fun, it's very loud, there's music and people, and it's just a great time to be with family and friends," she said. "I think it’s a great way to help find a cure for muscular dystrophy."
Aly's best friend,Tuathla Hefferan, came all the way from Ireland to visit over the week of the Muscle Walk, she said, which corresponded with her 17th birthday.
Hefferan said she always has a good time at the Muscle Walk and thinks her friend's fundraising and activism will help raise consciousness, and move research toward a cure for muscular dystrophy.
"I do think there will be a cure," Hefferan said. "If they treat it like cancer fundraising, more people would know about it."
For more information or to donate, look up Aly's Cats on Facebook.