In a small building across the street from the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, Caeli Kess, 4, and Mackenzie Hull, 5, sit behind a small yellow lemonade stand raising money for research into pediatric cancer, some of which might eventually find its way to their neighbor.
Big Blue Marble Academy Medical District day care is helping to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises money for research into child cancer.
The foundation has already given nearly $1.3 million in total to Dr. Ted Johnson at Georgia Cancer Center to support his work in treating brain tumors in children that has led to a unique clinical trial that is treating kids from across the country.
The foundation has been the largest supporter of the clinical trial and that funding has been critical to getting the work into research, Johnson has said.
Pediatric cancer is relatively rare compared to cancer in adults so it typically doesn’t attract industry funding. And the research into childhood cancer accounts for less than 4 percent of government funding, said Annie Korp, communications and public relations specialist for the foundation.
All 21 Big Blue Marble Academies are taking part in the Alex’s Lemonade Days and the Medical District center has already raised $300, with one week to go, said Administrator Lakeisha Thigpen.
Teachers have also been talking to the children about it, “teaching kids about giving back and helping out in the community,” she said. Daisha Coxson was willing to buy a $2 glass as she picked up her son, Mikhye, 3, who promptly commandeered the drink.
“I drank all my lemonade,” he said, looking up at her with a grin.
“You drank all my lemonade,” she said, smiling down at him.
Everyone in teacher Paula Wright’s class has met the $5 goal and Caeli and Mackenzie readily display her winning sales technique.
Wright prompts them. “Show your?”
“Teeth,” Mackenzie said, flashing a winning smile.
“Hi, would you like to buy some lemonade,” Mackenzie said. The girls are less sure about what the money is going for.
“They don’t understand cancer very well,” Thigpen said. “But they know they are raising money to help children.”
Upon hearing they have already reached their goals, Mackenzie decides to rest on her laurels.
“Now it’s time to take a nap,” she announced.
Nationally, the Lemonade Days campaign this year has already raised more than $412,000.
“Every penny counts and we always like to say you never know what dollar is going to be the one that funds something that cures childhood cancer,” Korp said.
Thigpen hopes the center’s efforts won’t have to travel far.
“That would be neat if the money could stay and go across the street,” she said.
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org