by Ruth Ciamarra, hero mom and host of “Anna’s Lemonade Stand”
While my daughter Anna was in treatment for T Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), we spent days confined to the house. Anna had a weakened immune system and as a result of our medically necessary confinement, she officially missed an entire school year. I was looking for ways to get our family involved in doing something—anything—to help other families avoid enduring the same outcome.
Then I saw a social media post in a cancer moms group about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). I immediately went to the ALSF site and I was happy to find ideas on how to set up a lemonade stand to raise money for better treatment options and cures for kids like Anna.
It sounded like an easy way to have Anna and her sister host a fun event in our front yard. Anna would have easy access to our house if she might not feel well, her sister could get involved with her friends to help set up and sell, and our family could actively take part in making a difference.
As it goes with cancer, unexpected medical issues can pop up at any time. Anna spent the night before our first lemonade stand in the ER. She made it home in time for the stand and for the amazing day we had!
The materials sent to us from ALSF gave us everything we needed to get started. With the many signs, posters, donation materials, and so on, plus our own canopy tent, table, chairs, and some balloons, opening for business was easy! Neighbors, strangers, classmates, nurses from our hospital, and even an adult childhood cancer survivor stopped by our house not only to donate, but to also ask about who Alex was, the little girl who started it all. What an amazing opportunity to share awareness about such an important cause!
The ripple effect of Anna’s Lemonade Stand spread throughout our community. Other children hosted their own stands and donated the proceeds to our event. Our school partnered with us to host a Lemonade Days stand outside of the school in a more visible location than our front yard. Additionally, the school and larger community have provided planning support, volunteers, donations of supplies and even a wooden lemonade stand! Last year, we held a classroom competition in the days leading up to the stand; we hope to continue to innovate and improve on how we can make this an annual tradition.
For those interested in hosting a stand for the first time, here is some advice:
- You do not need to feel overwhelmed by planning a grand event. Our own available tools and materials from ALSF was more than enough to simply and easily host our own stand and make a difference right away. If you feel comfortable, ask family or friends to help out the day of the stand. If you’re like us, you will keep running out of lemonade (a good thing!) and will need adults nearby to supervise while you run back inside to make more.
- Use your social media outlets and your online fundraising page well in advance of your stand if you can. So many people will want to help, even in small amounts, and this gives them an opportunity to support you remotely.
- Lastly, have fun! Our daughters have found so much joy, confidence, and pride in hosting these events each year. It gave them something to look forward to during one of the toughest stretches of treatment for our daughter, and it continues to be a highlight of our summer. We can’t wait to host again this year!
Read more about Anna and her battle with ALL, here.
Ready to get involved? You, too, can be a Lemonade Days stand host! Get the details here.