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LemonAid stands to boost cash for Youngsters's Hospital of Richmond at VCU – jj
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LemonAid stands to boost cash for Youngsters's Hospital of Richmond at VCU

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This weekend, Melissa Smith and her 13-year-old daughter, Maya, will host an Anthem LemonAid stand, part of a fundraiser for the Hematology and Oncology Clinic at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond, to contribute to the hospital where Maya receives treatment.

Maya was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor, in April  2017 and had entered remission before discovering that the cancer was back in November 2018 and beginning a second round of treatment that December.

The Smiths began participating in the fundraiser in 2017, and last year Maya was the face of the campaign, Smith said. Maya raised more than $9,000 last year through her stand and online donations, Melissa Smith said.

Maya wanted to help raise awareness and contribute to raising money for Children’s Hospital where she and other kids like her are treated and receive support, Melissa Smith said.

“She just wanted for people to be aware of the hospital, how much they support the kids and the families, and raise as much money as she can,” Smith said.

This year, she’s just as passionate about doing a stand again despite currently undergoing treatment and having tough days, Smith said.

Maya has also authored a book, Flight of Friendship, through the Red Fred Project, which is striving to publish 50 books created by 50 children with critical illnesses across the U.S.

The Smiths’ stand will be at the Walmart at 5001 Nine Mile Road in Henrico this Friday, tentatively from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Other Henrico stands planned

Other Henrico stands will include one hosted by the Wayland family in memory of their son and brother, Blake, at the Glen Allen Super Market on Mountain Road from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. this Saturday.

Blake had adult leukemia and died a month and a half before his 11th birthday, said his father, Brian Wayland. The family began participating in the annual Anthem LemonAid stand fundraiser 10 years ago, when their son Micah was a toddler, Wayland said. Although Micah, now 13 years old, never met Blake, he continues to host a stand in his brother’s memory.

The goal for this year’s stand is $500, Wayland said, but one year the stand made about $800. Registered participants receive lemonade mix, cups, a pitcher, a banner, stickers and sunglasses for free, and the donations given for cups of lemonade benefit the Hematology and Oncology Clinic.

Stands will be active this weekend, with the kick-off stand opening 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Walmart SuperCenter at 6920 Forest Avenue. Madison Martin, a patient of Children’s Hospital of Richmond who is now cancer-free, will host that stand with her family.

Elsewhere in Henrico, LemonAid stands will include one from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday at Express Employment Professionals, 827 East Parham Road, and a stand hosted by Richmond Family Magazine at the West End Farmers Market, 12496 Gayton Road, from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Margaret Thompson, the founder and publisher of Richmond Family Magazine, estimated her family has hosted a stand for about nine years.

Hosting the stand teaches her two children, ages 11 and 12, important skills, Thompson said, like communicating and asking adults for donations, understanding giving back to the community, and spending time preparing.

“They love to count out the money and see how much they’ve raised and mail the check off to Children’s Hospital,” Thompson said.

Donations are also accepted online at give.chfrichmond.org/campaign/anthem-lemonaid/c225558.

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