WAYNE COUNTY, Pa. — “Determined” was just one of the words Josh Sheard used to describe his niece Alyssa Cahoon.

She died after suddenly becoming sick while training with the Pennsylvania National Guard at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.

“Obviously, it’s been very traumatic, you know, getting the news that our 17-year-old niece passed away. It really is challenging, a lot of emotions that the family is going through and dealing with,” said Sheard.

“Aly,” as she was called by her friends and family, suffered sudden cardiac arrest during training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She died a few days later at just 17 years old.

The family from Wayne County has since learned that Aly had a rare heart condition.

“They found out that her twin sister Brianna has the same arrhythmia, and so through Aly, it basically saved Brianna’s life as well,” said Sheard. “Because they are doing procedures on her that will enable her to not have that same situation repeated.”

Aly was heading into her senior year at Forest City Regional School, where she and her twin sister Brianna played volleyball and basketball.

Her family plans to honor her memory through “Kisses for Ally.”

The program will collect tabs from aluminum cans and donate them to the Ronald McDonald House, an organization Sheard says supported Aly’s family over the past week or so.

“They want to continue this legacy. It’s kind of in its infancy, but certainly, they would want to make sure Aly’s legacy by helping out other people and continuing on,” said Sheard.

As the family continues on, Sheard will always have fond memories of his niece.

“Very vibrant, she was very personable, always smiled, very willing to encourage other people and to help.”