At the beginning of 2015, Allison “Ally” Lynn Willen, a Human Development student at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, left the U.S. for a semester abroad. She chose the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, partly to indulge her passion for trekking, but also to challenge herself with new experiences, to literally go farther. While trekking with other students in New Zealand’s Mount Aspiring National Park, a torrential downpour turned into a flash flood, and turned their hike into a nightmare. Ally became separated from the group and didn’t show up at a checkpoint. Apparently she slipped into a rain engorged creek and was swept away.
As word spread of the tragedy, the Willen family was inundated with condolences, and kindnesses. One word kept cropping up in all the outpouring: “inspiring.” Live Like Ally encapsulates the principles that Ally clearly and beautifully demonstrated throughout her life. These principles include embracing life courageously, whole-heartedly, and without regrets; being committed to making this world a better place for all living things, an active reverence for the Earth, and a willingness to move out of a comfort zone and push past personal limitations. Her spirit cannot not to be dimmed even though her body has ceased to be. This area of our site seeks to document the fingerprint she left on the world and to challenge everyone to live as she did; present, intentioned, and compassionate.