When the board of Gratitude Generation decided we wanted to team up and support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to help raise money for pediatric cancer research, it seemed like a perfect fit for the organization’s mission: Instill gratitude in future generations through education and service. Having a lemonade stand for charity is service – and it’s fun, tasty and lemony, outdoorsy and easy to do anywhere with kids and adults of all ages. Perfection!
But we’re six months old and while we’ve had an amazing run from idea to government-certified nonprofit in just a few months, plus an ever-growing calendar of service opps and programming, the beginning of June is a cluster of chaos for most families. Soccer and baseball, dance recitals and plays, band performances and graduations – the calendar is full, and the commitments are like Gremlins in the light.
So knowing at least a few families in it to win it (mine included!), we set a modest fundraising goal for the weekend, registered on ALSF’s page, and Team Grateful for Lemons was born. Quick backstory here: Alex was a toddler when she was diagnosed with cancer. She wanted to sell lemonade to earn money for research and to help her doctors, and though she was taken from the world at the unthinkably young age of 8, her parents launched an incredible, powerful, nationwide organization to raise money for this important cause. Can you believe that less than 4 percent of government funding for cancer research is allocated to pediatric cancer? These are kids, people, kids! And not one should be a victim to the c-word. Not one, ever.
The Whole Kit and Caboodle
ALSF is an incredible organization, and once we signed up, they rallied behind us. They sent kits with decorations, guidelines, stickers, bracelets, flags and even a coupon for free Country Time Lemonade (our new favorite company for obvious reasons). And so we quickly distributed kits to our Grateful for Lemons team across the Chicagoland area and even in Washington. The energy started building and the excitement was palpable. In our house, we were so excited and that we jumpstarted the weekend and had our first of three locations right after school on our street that sunny Friday afternoon. Our neighbors came out in support, pulling far more than $1 at a time out of their wallets – we had $175 before dinner!
My family had two more at baseball and soccer games over the weekend (See, you can make the chaos work for you sometimes!), there was a multi-family event in Lincolnshire, Ill., that raised more than $700, there were teens from the Gratitude Generation Kids’ Board stationed in front of a popular restaurant in Highland Park, Ill., one in Highwood, Ill., families across the area came out in droves -- the response was incredible as more than a customer or two paid $10 or more for a cup of lemonade and a snack!
Team Grateful for Lemons had 30 stands over the weekend, so you can do the math. You may be getting the idea that our modest goal of $1,500 was laughable, as we got report after report via social media buzz around the Gratitude Generation’s team and the generous and heartfelt response from our communities.
When all was said and done -- about $5,500! Yep, $5,500! The money is powerful, and according to ALSF, $2,000 funds a week of research. We’re proud and grateful to have contributed enough for almost three weeks. But there was something else remarkable here: People doing good, feeling good, considering other people, taking moments to feel grateful for what they have and their own health, for their children, their healthy children and the ones who have fought and won.
The mission of the Gratitude Generation came to life in one windy weekend, as we spread our own mission in support of another’s. Everyone who participated in any way felt the glow -- the gratitude glow you get from giving and receiving gratitude. It’s real, so, so real!
The inspiration for ALSF’s Lemonade Days and our weekend is sour: Childhood cancer is more sour than just about anything imaginable. But the experience of working to do something to fight it is all sweet. 100 percent sweet success, not even a touch of sour.
Have you hosted an Alex's Lemonade Stand? Tell us about it! If you want to, go for it, and tell us about that, too.
And if I can tell you about Gratitude Generation and how it's promoting gratitude in kids and adults and working to make the world a better place, let's talk about that, too!
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