Last week, an 18-year-old girl in Pennsylvania named Alyssa O’Neill died after suffering from an epileptic seizure. The death has brought heartbreak to her friends and family. However, there is one positive outcome of the story as the girl’s family, Starbucks, and all those crazy people on the internet have come together to honor the young lady throught the use of the "#AJO" twitter tag. AJO stands for the girl's full name: Alyssa Josephine O'Neill. The night before she died, Alyssa told her mom that she wanted to try the new pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. She never got to try the drink, but the world is working together to remedy that.
At a local Starbucks, Alyssa’s family purchased 40 free pumpkin spice lattes for the next 40 customers in line. The Starbucks tenants were so moved by the gesture that they donated another 50 drinks to support the cause. Customers who asked about the AJO hash tag (and somewhat drinkable free lattes) were informed of Alyssa’s struggles with epilepsy and forwarded to a Facebook page regarding the condition. It was a nice, if not somewhat odd, tribute to a young girl that died far too young.
And then, somewhere between cup 76 and cup 77, the internet decided to go all internet again.
"It's kind of turned into a phenomena in Erie and now it's just spread all over the country and it's not about coffee," Alyssa’s father said. "There's people paying off layaways, there's people buying meals, people filling all of the parking meters at local hospitals so people have free parking, putting gift cards under people's windshield wipers."
#AJO has since gone viral as the go-to tag for random acts of kindness. It’s kind of like the Haley Joel Osment movie. Only, you know, not a complete train wreck. #AJO has been trending nationwide on and off for the past few days. In most instances, it is a picture of someone doing something nice and #AJO’ing the hell of their gift.
So go ahead, join in on the fun! Do something nice today and let #AJO Run further amuck. It’s almost certainly not something Alyssa would have wanted, per se. But I bet she would have still thought it to be pretty cool.