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Teen Queen Makes 'Dream Come True'

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2005 – One child stood out above the rest of the nearly 100 children from military families and their parents packed into the room here on Capitol Hill June 10.

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Alyssa Weishoff said she adores teen actress Hilary Duff because "she is a good, nice girl, and she's a good actress and a good singer, but most importantly, because Duff is a good role model." Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA

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They were here to meet teen actress and singer Hilary Duff. Alyssa Weishoff, 12, came as Duff's special guest. When Duff finally arrived after a three-hour flight delay from New York, it was Alyssa who received the first kiss and warm embrace.

Alyssa sat in a wheelchair, her head wrapped in a pink scarf to conceal her hair loss from treatment of a rare childhood cancer called rhabdomyosarcoma. Her family says Alyssa has fought the disease for a year and a half.

"All traditional methods of treatment have failed, so we have stopped treatment right now," said Alyssa's father, Fred Weishoff, a retired Air Force officer. "We're basically praying for a miracle."

And though the disease, which attacks the body's muscle cells, has ravaged her body, it has not affected her smile. So when Alyssa saw Duff, her face lit up and she reached out to her.

For Alyssa, June 10 was a day worth living, and meeting Duff, her family said, was "a dream come true."

Alyssa claimed to be Duff's biggest fan. She still remembers the star's first 1998 box office movie, "Casper Meets Wendy."

She said she adores Duff because "she is a good, nice girl, and she's a good actress and a good singer, but most importantly, because Duff is a good role model."

Alyssa's mother, Lisa Weishoff, said that when she told her daughter would get to meet Duff, she began crying.

"I've never seen her cry happy tears, ever," she said. "It was quite an emotional moment, a moment in her life she will never forget, a very memorable time for her."

Duff said meeting Alyssa "inspires me of how strong kids can be, and how they can still keep their spirits so bright."

"It's nice to meet them and see how I affect them, because they really affect me," Duff said. "I'm very thankful and families like them are so strong. I pray for them and I love them."

Meanwhile, Fred Weishoff said that in a time of war, to have stars like Duff show their support of military families is "awesome."

"A lot of them (celebrities) in the past have not supported the military as well as they should have," he noted, "and I think it is awesome that someone in her position is doing something."

Duff came to Washington on behalf of the Armed Forces Foundation, a nonprofit organization started four years ago to support military families in need.

While here, Duff read a story to military children, signed autographs and took photos with them and their parents as part of the foundation's kickoff of its National Military Families Week.

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Related Sites:
Armed Forces Foundation

Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe Weishoff family poses for a family picture with Hilary Duff and her close friend, Benji Madden, of the rock band Good Charlotte. Also pictured is Alyssa's father Fred Weishoff, mother, Lisa, and, brother, Adam. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA  
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