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Team Alayna rallies for special return

January 29, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

First, the community threw her a concert. Now they are giving her a home makeover.

Alayna Zalac, the girl everyone knows from Girl Scouts, is on the move.

Last summer Alayna's leukemia took a turn for the worse, and she battled through it at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

The family is happy to report she is now in remission and coming home January 29.

Along with the countless efforts from the community, Italia Gardens of Oxford is hosting a Dine to Donate for Alayna on Wednesday, January 29, and Thursday the 30th from11 a.m. until 9 p.m. for dine-ins or carry-outs.

Just mention Alayna, and 25 percent of the sales will be donated to the Zalac family.

This is only one example of the rallying that has been fervent since the summer.

Beth Shifferd is a community member and Alayna-lover who has stepped up as the project coordinator for Team Alayna, a community coalition that came together this summer to raise funds for the Zalac family.

Well folks, they are at it again. This coming weekend, January 31 to February 2, a building crew is setting up framework for the first-floor addition to the Zalac household, with donated time, materials and love.

"I kept thinking, who can I ask, and I've reached out to a lot of big corporations, but really those doors were closed. The ones that were open were the people here, our community, I can't even tell how supportive the township has been," Shifferd said.

On Friday, crew members are sorting lumber at the Zalac residence at the end of Browning Dr. in Keatington Subdivision, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., they are putting it all up.

From the neck down, Alayna is paralyzed, and using a ventilator. Home modifications have included leveling out the first floor and building a first-floor bedroom for Alayna with a wheelchair accessible bathroom.

"This is a whole redoing of life. Things you had in place before no longer apply. So it is redoing life. Reorganizing it. My daughter is very close with Alayna. It just hits home with everyone who has come in touch with Alayna," Shifferd said.

Volunteers have coordinated with Shifferd to help feed building crews this weekend, and are bringing in the hot entrees and beverages to keep workers warm in the unpredictable weather.

Multiple local organizations have donated their time, products, and muscles to make the home renovations possible.

Shifferd has been busy writing outreach letters to local businesses explaining the situation and the needs of the family. Demolition crews, contractors, plumbers, and other local tradesmen have joined Team Alayna.

The Lake Orion football team went to the Zalac residence and helped move furniture around. Waldon Middle School has thrown two hat/slipper day fundraisers, where students donated a total of $281.05 to shuffle around school in their hats.

A local jeweler put on a show and raised $300 for Alayna saying one woman was so touched by her story she bought specifically from the "Alayna Collection."

Donation jars have been set up at locations around the downtown.  

More than $55,000 has been raised so far, community rallier Dawn Priebe said, who organized the Concert for Alayna last summer.

Local bands played, vendors sold hand crafted materials and baked goods, and altogether the concert raised $29,000.

Shifferd cannot believe the overwhelmingly positive response.

"Excavators have given their personal phone numbers for additional help. Making a financial donation is one thing. It's amazing. To actually come out and donate your time, it's a whole other thing, it will resonate with everyone and carry on with what they do," Shifferd said.

Many local mothers of daughters close with Alayna are involved in Team Alayna, a Facebook group created last summer that serves as a documenter for everything Alayna's family needs.

While most of the building materials have already been donated, Shifferd said finishing products, such as touch faucets, an adjustable shower head unit, cabinetry, sinks, toilets, and the like, are still being sought. Another new idea is an accessible van for Alayna, as she will need to drive to therapy at times.

People can donate materials directly, or purchase at a local store and have it delivered, Shifferd said.

"We're getting to the end of our list. I just can't believe we are coming to the end of the list of needs," Shifferd said.

If you would like to be a volunteer for the upcoming weekend, whether its donated time setting up framing and roofing, food (which they already have a lot of) and/or materials, contact Beth Shifferd at

"Workers have come into the house and have made picture boards. The people that come through this home are touched, they're moved, you can see the emotion as far as the connection they make, and they want to continue to help," Shifferd said. "I grew up in a small town. Coming from a small town, Lake Orion looks big to me. I am really impressed with Lake Orion. We moved here because we thought it was a nice community, and now we are certain it is."

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