Thursday, August 2, 2012
I stood there, my legs were tired, my feet hurt, I was sure I had a sunburn, and all I really wanted to do was sit down. But I still had about an hour and a half to go. You see, on Saturday, July 28th, I volunteered to help out at Alex’s Lemonade Stand. It’s a charity drive that donates 100% of the money collected from lemonade sales to help fund researching a cure for pediatric cancer. The mother of my daughter’s friend has been hosting a local chapter for several years now on the corner right by her house in North Park. I’ve helped out the last three years and for the last two years in a row, we’ve reached the goal we set. I would serve the lemonade, hold the bright yellow signs and wave them while I stood in the street trying to get drivers’ attention. I’d talk to passersby and let them know what was up. I drank several cups of lemonade myself; all I had was a few bucks on me. But you know it’s not so much the exact dollar amount we raise, it’s the effort involved behind it. This all means something greater than just lemonade. This year we were trying to reach $12,000, but half way through the day, we were hovering around $6000 and no one was quite sure we’d make it.
The day for a lemonade stand volunteer is hard, long, stressful, but it’s also entertaining, rewarding, and dare I say it, fun! The local radio station 94.9 FM San Diego set up a booth and broadcast music all day long; well except when there was a live band playing, which was about half the day. There was a silent auction as well as face painting for the kids. You see it’s not just about selling lemonade, it’s about celebrating life and good times with the community, neighbors, and the people you love.
My child doesn’t have cancer. I don’t personally know any children that have cancer either. However, I do know cancer is a terrible thing. An adult friend of mine is battling it right now. My dearly departed grandmother had breast cancer, although it was when I was very young and I don’t remember it. My other surviving grandmother had cancer as well. Cancer is one of those awful diseases that devastates its victims, and stabs at the hearts of their loved ones. Cancer has no remorse, no pity, empathy or mercy. It just does what it does, and it won’t stop unless we make it stop.
Doctors have devoted entire careers to helping people with cancer and researching cures and treatments. Countless man hours have been spent in the lab struggling for a breakthrough, an insight, an answer, anything that can help fight Cancer’s wrath. Eating right, taking care of yourself and making wise health choices sometimes aren’t enough and the doctors know that. Sometimes, there’s still nothing they can do. Even with all of their efforts they still come up short. I can’t know what it’s like, knowing that after devoting a life to science and helping patients, what it feels like to fail the ones who needed you the most. I don’t know what it’s like to be lying there on a bed, being ravaged by a disease that refuses to relent. There are so many ways I can’t help the doctors with their research, the patients with their pain, or their families with their helplessness.
I do know one thing though. In some small way, if all I can give is my time, I can make it mean something. I don't have to be rich, I don't have to have political powers or connections, I don't have to be a genius to help out. So I stood on a street corner, like all the other volunteers and I helped sell lemonade. And at the end of the day, we raised over $12,000 dollars. After we hit our mark, I only half jokingly said, "Next year let's shoot for $15,000." Until we end Cancer's reign of terror, everyone will struggle in one way or another. I figure the few aches and pains I suffer from being on my feet the whole day is a small price to pay.
Thanks for reading. Comments and questions are always welcome.
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