Allison Winn is 13. For some parents, the age alone signals trouble. But Allison — a slight girl with cool glasses and sleek dark hair — is bright, reserved, disarmingly honest and super polite.
Accompanied by her mother Dianna Litvak, Allison walks down the IJN hallway with wary confidence. Would she like her mother be present during the interview? “Yes,” she says emphatically. Asked and answered.
Her Bat Mitzvah announcement, which appeared in the Aug. 9, 2013 IJN, contained a small, startling paragraph: “Allison was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor just before her seventh birthday.”
That’s one of the reasons she’s here today — but not the only one.
She formed the Stink Bug Project in 2009. Since its inception, she has raised $80,000 to help children with life-threatening illnesses by selling dog biscuits to canines in the Prison Trained K-9 Companion Program.
These dogs become loyal friends to kids in need of constant love and licks. Sadly, some of them outlive their human charges.
The Bat Mitzvah went swimmingly, Allison says. “My parsha was Shoftim. The Israelites are almost out of Israel, and Moses appoints judges.
“I said in my speech that this would make Moses and Joshua very happy because the Israelites were like little children on a long car ride: ‘I’m hungry! I’m thirsty! Are we there yet?’”
A rare waterfall of words spills from Allison’s mouth. Though she can be extremely reticent, the subject determines her response.
In April, 2007, Allison was watching television with her younger sister Emily at the family’s condo in Steamboat Springs when she realized she could see two TVs.
Allison told her father, Dr. Brian Winn, and he immediately phoned a colleague who said she was experiencing “ghost vision.”
“That night we drove to Children’s Hospital in Denver,” Allison continues, “and I had an MRI. We were driving back to Steamboat and my mom’s phone rang.”
Dianna, who relives every moment, is quiet.