A Valpo Life in the Spotlight: Allyson “Izzy” Murphy

 Izzy Murphy has encountered major triumphs at the young age of 9. The luminosity of her smile has the ability to illuminate any room within seconds. Her positive attitude and remarkable strides may be seen as heroic, as she contributed her time and efforts to ValPLAYso - The Next Generation! last October, in which she raised $6,000 for the new playground.

Before Murphy transferred to Immanuel Lutheran School in which she currently attends, she attended Memorial Elementary. While at Memorial, she was asked by staff to be a part of the ValPLAYso Children’s Committee.

This invitation left Murphy excited, as she willingly agreed to the offer. She had no idea the achievements she would accomplish in the months to come.

“When our family heard that a children’s committee was being formed, we knew Izzy was needed on this to be a representative for children with special abilities and needs. Izzy knew her voice would be heard, as she sat in those meetings with other children from other schools voicing the need for ramps, smooth surfaces, swings and other accessible equipment,” Izzy’s mother Allyson Murphy said.

As the park renovations began, Murphy became a Children’s Committee representative. As a member of the committee, she and other children were included in planning the layout of the park and discussed all of the changes that would soon be implemented.

The new playground that is funded solely by donations and was built by volunteers is an all-ability and rubberized surface area for children of all ages to play.

“This playspace is unique and special in a way that can not only be summarized with the sweat and toil of those that volunteered thousands of hours and the generous souls that provided financial support, but to the story of how each and every one of us can make a difference if we put our mind to it,” Director of Business Operations of the Valpo Parks Steve Antonetti said.

Some of the playground’s biggest attractions are the tube slides, swings, monkey bars and a Zipkroonz. For the younger kiddos, a “tot lot” was created, which is a separate area for children ages 2-5.

“They planted a time capsule in the ground, too. I put in rainbow loom bracelets and other kids put in Legos or pictures of themselves,” Izzy said.

Some of the funds for the playground were donated by businesses, sponsors and other community members. The children of the committee also contributed their time by holding a lemonade stand.

Together, the committee raised a total of $12,000. Murphy, with the help of her friends and family, raised $6,000 of the total $12,000 one mighty lemonade stand.

“How this young lady could selflessly give her time was mature beyond her years. From this type of grass roots effort, it has inspired a whole aura we now call the ‘ValPLAYso Spirit’ that has touched many lives,” Antonetti said.

It was the weekend of July 4 that Murphy set out to create her own lemonade stand. The committee had already held their own, but since she was unable to attend, she made it her mission to raise money with her own personal stand. She took the initiative into her own hands and over the course of that weekend, $6,000 were raised.

Funds from neighbors, friends and family members from Valparaiso and other places were raised through Murphy’s stand. Businesses, charities and also anonymous donors matched donations to help the cause.

Her spectacular dedication to the ValPLAYso - The Next Generation! has shown others that even at a young age, anything is possible.

“Through Izzy, other children can see that not only can a group gather to make a difference and help others and the community, but you alone can make a difference by just simply believing in yourself and taking action. She couldn’t have known she could raise $6,000, but by taking a chance -- look what she accomplished. She is amazing,” Co-Chair of the Children’s Committee Monica Decker said.

She not only helped raise money, but she also attended every meeting she could, and did the most possible. Her hard work radiated, as others followed her in her path.

“Izzy was VERY active on the committee – she never missed an event or photo op if possible. If she did have to miss, she made sure she participated in a way she was able to. She is a ray of sunshine with a smile on her face always. I was drawn to her immediately and knew she would be a leader on this committee. She was always there ready to help. She was a joy to get to know and bond with,” Decker said.

On January 28, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas presented Izzy and her family with a plaque in appreciation for their substantial contribution to the ValPLAYso effort.

“It was so cool to be given a plaque with my face plate on it by Mayor Costas. I had an awesome time helping ValPLAYso and thanks to everyone who donated to my Lemonade Stand. I love ValPLAYso and can’t wait to play on it when it warms up,” Izzy said.

Although her work on the Children’s Committee was wholesome, she also distributes her time to the Dare2tri and GLASA, in which she takes part in camps and sports.

In her free time, Murphy trains for para-triathlons that consist of swimming, biking and racing chair. For the last two years, she has competed in the Life Time Kids Triathlon in Chicago, in which she always finishes with a smile from ear to ear.

She also takes joy in her tennis and piano lessons, acting classes, arts and crafts, fishing, cooking and bi-skiing.

Through everything, she is surrounded by those who love her: her parents, her 7-year-old sister Madelyn, her twin brother, William and her golden doodle, Lulu.