A few young children at a lemonade stand is not an uncommon sight.
But Monday afternoon in Peoria one such lemonade stand stood for something more than just a meager profit and a few laughs. For PJ Bartos, a 7-year-old boy who lives in Vistancia in north Peoria, selling lemonade outside Trilogy Golf Club is a higher calling.
“When I was 4, my sister and I used to pull out the cooler, the cups and the tent and sell lemonade,” he said. “But my mom and dad said we needed to find a good cause to benefit from it.”
On vacation not long after, PJ’s mother, Donna, said they found a worthy organization.
“He had a bottle of Alex’s Lemonade on vacation and decided he wanted to help,” she said.
So two years ago PJ set up a stand in his front yard and sold lemonade to benefit the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a charity started to raise money for pediatric cancer research. It is named after Alexandra Scott, who after being diagnosed with cancer began selling lemonade to raise money for research.
Though Alex would succumb to cancer in 2004 at age 8, the foundation she inspired has raised more than $30 million and provided funding for more than 80 research projects across the country to date.
PJ said he was moved by the story and wanted to do his part, and this year he set his sights high.
“I’m trying to raise $3,000,” he said. “By the time I graduate high school, I want to raise $50,000. I think I can do it.”
Gerry and Kathy Eager think he can do it, too. The Eagers, who live in Glendale, have made the trip to Vistancia for every one of PJ’s three fund-raising events.
“I saw it in the paper,” Kathy Eager said. “We wanted to come and help.”
Gerry said PJ’s attitude touched him for a very personal reason.
“Kathy and I lost a grandson to leukemia a few years back,” he said. “He was diagnosed just shy of 5 years old and died at 7. It’s just so nice to see a young person like PJ. Most people don’t start thinking about helping others until they are much older. But PJ’s different. It’s good to support someone like him.”
The Eagers said they plan to attend for as long as PJ keeps selling lemonade.
“He’s doing a spectacular job for such a young man.”
For information, visit www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/70339.
Jeff Dempsey may be reached at 623-876-2531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.