My cheeks hurt from smiling. My heart is so full. The 2nd Annual Sarasota Alex’s Lemonade Stand was a huge success.
I was out of the house this morning before anyone else woke up. Car loaded, fully caffeinated, ready to make a difference in another family’s life the way our village made a difference for us last year. Michael held down the fort, feeding the boys and getting them ready for a day of service. They arrived an hour before the stand was open for business. By the time the clock struck eleven, we had a silent auction and raffle table decked out with over fifty items, a bake sale table full of sweets, a food truck, a shave ice truck, a local artist, a photo booth, and two blood mobiles on site. It was go time.
Everyone helped. Everyone. The Gilkey family and so many of our friends and neighbors joined me and my sweet friend Jade to pull off an amazing event. Benjamin especially enjoyed serving lemonade, and he took it very seriously. When the news cameras arrived, he shied up a bit, but he still had great soundbytes for the camera. I was not quite so reserved. The moment I saw Miaya and her grandmother walking toward the lemonade stand I dropped everything to go and wrap my arms around them. That was the very best feeling for me. So much wrapped up into one hug.
We raised a significant amount of money for Miaya’s family and enough for at least a week’s worth of pediatric cancer research through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. We will work on more throughout the month, and bigger and better plans for next year. We also collected 33 units of blood through the blood drive, which means the world to me.
I don’t think Benji fully realizes the implications of today. I know he doesn’t know what research funding means. But he knows how he felt last year to be at the epicenter of this kind of love, and this year, he knows how it feels to be dishing it out. That’s everything.