HARMONY -- Aliza Jean Herrick Stutzman, 13, went to heaven, wrapped in the arms of the Lord, on Jan. 23, 2013. The past eight months Aliza bravely fought brain cancer and inspired so many people with her courage and positive outlook on life. Aliza was born March 27, 1999, in Skowhegan to Craig and Karen Stutzman.
She had an upbeat spirit from the moment she was born and was loved by so many people. Aliza always tried to enjoy life to the fullest and had many talents and interests. Her favorite activity was playing sports, especially basketball. She participated on both Harmony Elementary School teams, as well as Dexter travel teams. She loved going to basketball camp with her friends, as well as the River of Life Bible Camp.
When she was younger, Aliza loved going to dance classes and Girl Scouts, as well as taking horseback riding lessons. Aliza was also a spiritual person and accepted the Lord as her personal savior when she was 10. She also had a musical soul. She played piano and had an amazing voice, often performing with the family band "Harmony Hill." The past two years, she played trombone in the Harmony School band as well.
One of her true passions was reading. Most nights, Aliza would end her day by reading. She often read entire series of novels multiple times. One summer she read nearly 10 new books. Aliza loved school and rarely missed a day. She earned the Presidential Academic Award four years in a row. Aliza was a free spirit and just loved being around her friends. She loved being goofy and making people laugh. You never knew what she was going to do or say, but her sense of humor was a joy to everyone who knew her. Only Aliza could make a trip to Walmart with her friends a total adventure. Aliza also believed that everything happens for a reason and that giving up was never an option, even when things got hard. Over the past many months, her motto was "Fight Like A Girl." Many called her "The Warrior" because she had to fight through many other complications, the most challenging being blindness.
She lost her sight in August and even with all the extra challenges, she was positive and showed amazing courage and faith. She was so blessed throughout the fight, because she had so much support from her friends. She spent more than 16 weeks in hospitals and was always surrounded by close friends and family. Her huge heart was filled with a unique love, giving hope to those who watched her fight so bravely.
Aliza is survived by her parents, as well as her brother, Jacob, and sister, Sarah; grandparents, Irving and Linda Herrick of Harmony; grandparents, Richard and Gail Stutzman of Sangerville; uncle, Eric Stutzman and his wife, Susan, of Georgia; aunt Alicia Stutzman of Dover-Foxcroft; aunt Kristen Schoepe and her husband, David, of California; as well as many cousins and her amazing best friend, Cidney Pratt of Harmony.
Aliza was predeceased by her uncle Scott Herrick, of Harmony.
An uplifting ceremony celebrating her amazing life will be held at Dexter Regional High School at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013.
Her parents are so grateful for all the support that was given to them over the past several months. It allowed them to focus on Aliza's care around the clock. They are currently starting a fund called the Aliza Jean Family Cancer Foundation. In lieu of flowers, the family would like the public to know that the goal will be to raise money to help take the financial burden from other families whose child is fighting this terrible disease. Donations for the fund can be sent to Bangor Savings Bank c/o Aliza Stutzman Fund, P.O. Box 454, Skowhegan, ME 04976. All money raised will go directly to local families whose children are fighting brain cancer.
Arrangements are by Crosby & Neal, Dexter. For an online guest register, go to www.CrosbyNeal.com.