Alyssa Dismuke spent much of her young life caring and showing compassion for the elderly. As a little 4-year-old girl with a big heart, she could have never envisioned that spotlight being reflected back on her as a St. Frederick senior.
More than a decade later, the spotlight is here, and it's well earned after Dismuke received her plaque for winning the 2022 Wendy’s Female High School Heisman for the State of Louisiana earlier this week at St. Frederick High School. The honor, which symbolizes the pursuit of excellence with integrity, remains a surprise for Dismuke and her family.
“I was kind of just expecting to make it a few rounds, but I never expected I would win it,” Dismuke told The Morning Drive with Aaron and Jake.
Because Dismuke’s English teacher encouraged seniors to fill out scholarship applications, St. Frederick’s leading scorer for girls hoops filled out the Wendy’s Heisman application to simply try her luck. Dismuke was surprised to learn that she was selected as the state representative for the honor.
“I was actually in the middle of school, and my mom sent me an email they sent her, which said I was the state winner,” Dismuke said. “I couldn’t show too much expression, so I was just texting her like, ‘Well, I didn’t expect it.’ But I was happy.”
What undoubtedly helped Dismuke’s chances of winning was her compassion for others. Since St. Frederick’s state silver medalist in shot put was 4 years old, Dismuke and her mother, Adrin Williams, came up with creative ways to give presents to residents in nursing homes.
“We went to take my cousin Christmas dinner because she was working there, and I saw nobody really had any presents. Like a 4-year-old would, I said, ‘Mom, I think everybody deserves a gift,’” Dismuke said. “I asked, ‘Can we just buy the stuff?’ She said, ‘Well, we can’t really afford everyone a gift here.’ Then we came up with the idea to make them.”
What started as a project to deliver Christmas gifts to one nursing home evolved into providing gifts for every holiday for two nursing homes.
“We hope to have even more,” Dismuke said.
Dismuke said it takes about two weeks to prepare the gifts, and that Williams typically comes up with an idea and runs it by Dismuke.
“She’s very creative,” Dismuke said.
COVID-19 has made it rather complicated the last two years when it comes to nursing home visits, and unfortunately that’s kept Dismuke from seeing so many residents. The St. Frederick student-athlete has certainly missed those visits too.
“There’s a lot they really miss out on like stories I could have told them, and there are so many new people I could’ve met,” Dismuke said. “I feel like the residents and myself missed a lot from each other. So I just hope one day soon I’m able to go in and do my regular routine.”
Because Dismuke has yet to turn 18, “Alyssa Cares Ministry” is an LLC under Williams’ name. Once Dismuke graduates, the non-profit business will transfer over to Dimsuke when she can put it in her name legally.
Of course, Dismuke has and will continue to benefit from giving in many ways. The Wendy’s Female High School Heisman honor is the latest, and that’ll certainly look good on a college résumé. But the reward for doing kind gestures for others goes beyond any plaque or any résumé builder.
“Community service doesn’t have to be very broad or very big,” Dismuke said. “You can help your grandparents, help your neighbors. Help someone who needs help.”