MARS HILL — It was seven years ago that Cathy Cropley of Mars Hill read the story of Alexandra “Alex” Scott, a Connecticut girl who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, before her first birthday.
She fought hard against the disease, even after she learned as a 2-year-old that her tumors began growing again. When Scott was undergoing a stem cell transplant as a 4-year-old, she told her mother that she wanted to have a lemonade stand when she got out of the hospital to earn money so that doctors could help other children like her.
She held her first lemonade stand a year later, raising $2,000. Word of her story spread and others around the world began doing the same. She continued to hold yearly lemonade stands until her death in 2004 at age 8. By that time, Scott and others had raised more than $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life.
For seven years, Cropley and her family have been one of the “others” who has helped keep Scott’s memory and dream alive while raising money for pediatric cancer research.
Cropley and her daughter, Jessica, 11, were at the Mars Hill IGA on Saturday, manning their seventh “Alex’s Lemonade Stand.” The family sets up the stand in Mars Hill or in a nearby town to benefit the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The family set up their stand on Saturday to coincide with the foundation’s 7th annual Lemonade Days.
“I read Alex’s story and I really wanted to do something to help,” Cathy Cropley said Saturday. “I knew that this charity wanted to have a stand in every state, and when I first started I had the only stand in the state.”
Cropley lost both of her parents to cancer, and as a mother herself, she said that it is hard for her to imagine how devastating a diagnosis of pediatric cancer is to parents.
“No kid deserves cancer,” said Cropley. “No child should have to go through such suffering.”
Cropley said that she and Jessica usually see significant sales when they set up at the Mars Hill IGA.
“On Saturday, that is the place that gets the most traffic” she explained. “Everyone is doing their grocery shopping and they see what we are doing, and most people spare whatever they can.”
Cropley said that her family also has set up the stand in Westfield, and their most successful fundraiser brought in $600 in sales in one day.
“My goal is to get $1,000 worth of sales in one day,” she said Saturday. “I am not there yet, but I keep plugging along. We really enjoy doing it, and it is a great charity.”
Cropley said that she feels that having a stand each year has brought more recognition for the charity.
“I don’t have to explain it as much as I used to,” said Cropley. “I think its really important to raise awareness about this, It is not as prominent as other charity’s, but that can change. I really want people to know how important this charity is.”