Local Cancer Group Turns Lemons Into Research

Brenda Crow, co-founder of the Marshall County Childhood Cancer Awareness Group, right, helps volunteer Brynna White prepare hot dogs at an Alex’s Lemonade Stand fundraiser in Moundsville. Photo by Drew Parker

MOUNDSVILLE — Last summer, a school secretary and local mother united to combat childhood cancer and remember a young life lost.

This winter, their goals came to fruition when they presented a sizable donation to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a national organization dedicated to finding a cure.

The Marshall County Childhood Cancer Awareness group, consisting of school employees, students and residents, met with county commissioners in September, proclaiming September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The proclamation encouraged businesses, churches and organizations to “go gold” to show support for the cause, with themed T-shirts and yellow home decorations.

Founders Brenda Crow, a secretary at McNinch Primary School and school bus driver Brenda Frohnapfel traveled to Philadelphia in February to present a $20,000 check to the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer. Frohnapfel’s involvement was inspired by the death of her daughter, Abby, a 16-year-old John Marshall High School student, in August 2015 after a short battle with leukemia. An additional $5,000 was subsequently donated by the group.

Funds were gathered through a combination of T-shirt sales, “Go Gold” themed football games at local high schools, tree gala auctions, private donations and most recently, a series of trademark lemonade stands in the Moundsville area.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, dedicated to raising funds for research into new treatments and cures for adolescent cancer, was inspired by Alexandra Scott, a young girl who lost her battle to cancer in 2004.

By the time of her death, Scott had raised $1 million in an effort to find a cure, by selling lemonade in her front yard.

Her story has since gained national attention and inspired thousands of fundraisers across the country.

Lemonade stands were held throughout Moundsville on Monday, at Ash Avenue Church of God and the former West Virginia Penitentiary Moundsville Center and on Wednesday at Calvary United Methodist Church, Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree, with local elementary school students selling the popular summer drink, hot dogs, baked goods and more to the public.

Stands also will be held Monday at the Marshall County 4-H Camp and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at State Farm Insurance by Lorri Grisell in Bethlehem and in Moundsville at State Farm Insurance by Mike McCoy. The events are in honor of national Alex’s Lemonade Stand Week. Churches, 4-H groups and other organizations formed teams to run the stands.

According to Frohnapfel, the foundation’s $25,000 in donations will support the treatment of 12 children and young adults dealing with acute myeloid leukemia, which Abby battled before her death.

“I’m thrilled, over the moon. I can’t believe what we have accomplished in such a short time. June 1-11 are National Lemonade Days and I think that’s a great way to get kids involved, which is a great way to bring awareness. Awareness brings research and that’s what we need,” Frohnapfel said. “The research involves the exact leukemia my daughter had, so that’s why we chose that one. It means the world to me because we’ve got to put an end to this.”

Crow said the cause is important due to lack of research for cancer in children specifically.

“We co-funded a research project with them. They needed $25,000 by the end of 2017 and we’ve already surpassed that goal. The project we chose is doing a trial process right now, so we will see if they need more money or go on to funding the next project,” Crow said. “The National Cancer Institute sets aside four percent of it proceeds to childhood cancer research. That budget has been reduced and reduced so that four percent is much less than it was five or 10 years ago. The incidence of childhood cancer is just going up and up while they use drugs that were created for adults. The pharmaceutical companies won’t fund the research. It’s just pitiful and someone’s got to do something.”

Ed Littell, a Calvary United Methodist Church member and customer at Wednesday’s lemonade stand, said he enjoys supporting local organizations fighting the issue,

It’s a worthy cause. I’m a cancer survivor myself so I help anytime I can,” he said. “We can’t beat cancer but we can certainly give it a go for its money.”

Matthew Chamberlain, a Moundsville Middle School student and volunteer at Calvary United Methodist Church’s stand, said he joined to help others.

“This is a all for a good cause,” Chamberlain said. “We want to help other kids.”