When Life Gives You Lemons

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Hicksville raises money for pediatric cancer families

A Chick-fil-A employee makes freshly-squeezed lemonade to sell at the charity event. (Photo by Ashton Staniszewski)

In recognition of September being National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a fundraiser was held at Chick-fil-A in Hicksville’s Broadway Commons on Sept. 14 to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), an organization that raises money for families dealing with pediatric cancer and for institutions performing cancer research.

There as an ambassador for ALSF, Alex Thomas and his parents came from their Huntington home to be the “hero family” honored at the fast food chain during the event.

At just 4-months-old, Thomas was diagnosed with stage three hepatoblastoma—a malignant liver tumor. By age 8, Thomas had battled four more cancerous tumors on his kidneys. Seven surgeries and more than five years of chemotherapy later, Thomas is now a junior at Hofstra University and is cancer-free.

(Photo by Ashton Staniszewski)

“I love getting my story out, I love talking about it with people,” said Thomas, who is majoring in public relations. “I love doing this, I’m really proud of what I do. I wish to get my story out there to more people to inspire someone.”

In 2000, four-year-old Alexandra Scott, a cancer patient since just before her first birthday, held her own lemonade stand and raised more than $2,000 for the hospital she received treatment from. By 2004, people across the U.S. collectively raised more than $1 million for childhood cancer research after being inspired by Scott’s story. Although Scott passed away that August, her spirit lives on through ALSF, officially established on Jan. 18, 2005—her ninth birthday.

This year marked the second annual ALSF fundraiser by Chick-fil-A in 26 of its tri-state area restaurants. The fundraiser donates 100 percent of all lemonade sales made during operating hours to ALSF. Last year’s efforts raised more than $28,000.

“Ten years ago, it wasn’t like this. There weren’t really that many fundraisers out there,” Thomas said. “It really does mean a lot to me to see people making an effort to make a difference when it comes to childhood cancer research.”

From left: Erin Elko, owner and operator of Chick-fil-A Hicksville; the Chick-fil-A mascot; Alex Thomas’s mother and father; and Alex Thomas. (Photo by Ashton Staniszewski)

Thomas travels often to tell his story and raise awareness for pediatric cancer, an endeavor his parents couldn’t be more proud of. At the last event Thomas took part in, a research grant was named in his honor.

“He is amazing us every day,” said Thomas’ mother, Lori. “He’s a hard worker, he’s diligent, he’s empathetic and there’s no limit to what I believe he can do.”

Inspired by “just doing the right thing,” Thomas believes no parent should have to witness their child battle cancer.

“People always say I’m the hero, when really it’s my parents; they’re the heroes,” he said. “No parent should have to go to an oncology ward and then be forced to hear that their child has cancer. That’s why I come out here telling my story, because I just feel that no parent should go through what mine did.”

To learn more about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, donate or to partner with them to organize your own fundraiser, visit www.alexslemonade.org.

Which charitable foundations do you support? Let me know at aeichler@antonmediagroup.com.

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