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Allessie and Ryan families share bond, promote organ donation through field hockey

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First, Mackenzie Allessie gave thanks with all her heart. Then she played field hockey with all her heart.

And because of the miracle of organ donation, Allessie’s father, Andy, had been given a new heart, affording him the special opportunity of watching his daughter grow up and to play the sport she loves.

In the fall of 2007, a young man named Kevin Ryan, then 18 and a freshman at Towson University, was struck by a drunk driver while walking back to his college dormitory.

In accordance with Kevin’s wish to be an organ donor, his parents, Charlie and Angela Ryan, opted to keep him on life support in order to give doctors enough time to find recipients for his organs. One such recipient turned out to be Mr. Allessie.

Thus, on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 5, Allessie and her Donegal high school teammates came together in sunny Mount Joy to not only take on field hockey rival Manheim Central, but also to promote Organ Donation Awareness and raise funds in support of Kevin Ryan’s Gift, a scholarship set up by the Ryan family that is made available to Towson University students.

The week leading up to Wednesday’s game, the Indians’ players discussed organ donation with their classmates. Proceeds from donations, raffles, game concessions, and the sale of green ribbons all went to Kevin Ryan’s Gift.

Before the contest, Donegal head coach Jessica Shellenberger addressed the crowd, and Allessie spoke near midfield alongside her parents, family, and Charlie and Angela Ryan, who were able to attend Wednesday’s event.

Following her emotional speech, Allessie, a sophomore, took the field in what would be a 7-0 victory for the Indians. An All-American her freshman year, Allessie assisted on the first two goals of the contest before rattling-off five-straight scores, giving her 34 goals this season and 94 in her impressive, young career.

Even more impressive, however, was the way Allessie, her family, and Donegal field hockey joined together with the Ryan family in support of such an outstanding cause.

Information regarding Kevin Ryan’s Gift can be found at Information for the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, which assisted with the donation, can be found at