WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) — Dr. Ilan Alhadeff worked hard his whole life. He’s a husband, father, friend, doctor, and most recently a student who spent the last two years working on his MBA.
“This was a lot of work more than I ever would have expected,” he shared. “It was not easy. I’ll be honest, I missed plenty of socc er games, plenty of trips, a lot of things.”
Alhadeff works up to 100 hours a week as a physician for a healthcare company, and every day came home just to spend several more hours on homework and tests. His family supported him every step of the way.
During that time, he experienced lots of ups and down. However, on February 14, 2018, he truly wanted to give up.
Tragedy struck on that day, his oldest daughter Alyssa shot and killed, along with 16 others, her freshman year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
While impossible to describe his 14-year-old daughter in just one interview, Alhadeff kept going back to the word “motivated.”
“She did what she had to do to get her work done. She didn’t complain, She didn’t bellyache. She didn’t say hey, I need an easy way out. She did it,” he said, “And to me, it was actually pretty impressive to see a young girl who really hasn’t experienced the world be so motivated.”
Alyssa was a soccer star at Stoneman Douglas, but he says she also focused on her grades. He said one time Alyssa even decided to skip soccer practice to study for a big test, knowing she wouldn’t start in the upcoming game because of it.
Alhadeff said she was upset about that when game-time rolled around, but she knew the consequences. Then surprised everyone during the next game.
“The next game that she did play after that, she was a star there,” he smiled. “And she played maybe her best game ever. It’s so impressive when I think about it.”
It’s that moment, and Alyssa’s memory, that kept him going and encouraged him to keep working towards his degree.
“Her motivation and her dedication and her resiliency. Now they say children are resilient, and they’ll have motivation and dedication, but not like that. Not that age,” said Alhadeff. “And I said if she can do it, I can do it too.”
“We fought and we mustered through it, and here I am two years later. And I did this for my daughter,” he shared.
Not only has Alhadeff been busy working on his MBA, he and his wife Lori have also been working together to enact change.
Most recently, the two helped pass legislation in New Jersey called the “Alyssa Law,” which requires placing silent panic alarms in every school, similar to the silent panic buttons currently in every bank. The buttons trigger an immediate response from law enforcement.
Right now the family is working to get the “Alyssa Law” passed in Florida.
If you want to help, contact local legislatures or go online.
Tuesday, Alhadeff will walk across the stage at Florida Atlantic University to accept a diploma for his MBA, with his guardian angel guiding his every step.