Ben and his mom Priscilla spent six weeks planning his tenth birthday. The invitations were sent. Mad Science was booked. Ben’s friends were excited to attend. But Ben spent his birthday and the next ten days in the hospital.
The day before his birthday, Ben was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“With his diagnosis our lives changed,” remembers Priscilla. “We no longer had control of our lives. We were on a tight schedule of clinic appointments, hospital stays, radiation, and an extensive medication schedule.” Priscilla explains that their family has experienced the devastation, fear and pain that childhood cancer causes, but they’ve also witnessed the good that can come when a community works together.
During one visit to the pediatric oncology clinic at VCU Children’s Medical Center, Ben spotted a poster for Anthem LemonAid. This popular Children’s Miracle Network program encourages area families and businesses to set up lemonade stands and help raise funds for pediatric cancer treatment. “Lemonade is Ben’s favorite drink, and I thought it would cheer him up to have a special mission of his own – something he could have total control over – and it did,” says Priscilla.
There is a Children’s Miracle Network hospital in nearly every community dedicated to raising funds to help children like Ben. VCU Children’s Medical Center and Children’s Hospital are two of the 170 Children’s Miracle Network member facilities across the nation. These local children’s healthcare centers benefit directly from the dollars raised in the Richmond community. “These funds, raised a dollar at a time by purchasing a ‘miracle balloon’ at a local retailer, or by enjoying a glass of lemonade at a LemonAid stand, enable our member hospitals to provide the highest level of healthcare available to the children in our community,” says Rachel Bruni, director of Children’s Miracle Network Richmond.
With the help of these Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in the Richmond community, children of all ages and backgrounds can receive treatment for every imaginable disease and injury – from asthma and broken bones to cancer and heart disorders.
Today, Ben is a healthy 13-year-old, happy to have finished his treatments. Ben enjoys playing video games, making movies, and spending time with his family. He plans to host his LemonAid stand again this summer and continue to help kids just like him. “Now there is no getting rid of us,” says Priscilla. “We plan to be a part of Anthem LemonAid from here on out. It’s just that important to us.”