Three local children hope to see you on the town and share some lemonade Saturday when they host Fort Mill's fourth annual Alex's Lemonade Stand.
Dubbed "The Baxter Stand," it's part of the National Lemonade Days weekend, with proceeds from thousands of stands nationwide going toward finding a cure for pediatric cancer.
The annual stands have made a big difference since their inception in 2000 with Alexandra "Alex" Scott's front-yard lemonade stand in Pennsylvania, raising more than $19 million to fund 80 research projects nationwide.
Alex was 4 years old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. She had the idea to hold a lemonade stand and raise money to find a cure for kids like her, and over time this developed into a major foundation.
"ALS is huge, huge now," says Lorie Lower, a Fort Mill mom whose daughter Louise is also a survivor of neuroblastoma.
This year, the Baxter Stand has been chosen as one of 11 official Grand Stands presented by Country Time Lemonade.
"They're providing us with a lot more lemonade and a lot more cups," says Lower.
There will be plenty to go around all day long, and the three host families will be ready to welcome a big crowd.
"Last year, we joined forces with the DeNobile and Lux families, and the kids love it," Lower said.
Like Louise, Vincent DeNobile and Austin Lux were both treated for neuroblastoma.
After the photo shoot to promote the stand, Austin spends most of his time running around the fountain square on Market Street, his arms full of lemons. Whenever he strays too far, Vincent herds him back toward the parents.
"He likes to police," says Jennifer DeNobile of her son, who has been healthy now for three years. Austin has been in remission for one year
"As you can see, he's perfectly healthy and a little wild," says Heather Lux, Austin's mom. "But we'll take it."
The stand raised $8,000 last year, double the amount from 2006. This year, the goal is set at $10,000 and no donation is too small.
"My friends Alex and Ben brought their piggy banks full of pennies one year," says Louise.
Donations also may be made at www.firstgiving.com/baxlemonade08.
"This is an opportunity to help out families that are still going through their battle," says Lux. "And we can contribute to the research that will hopefully keep families from going through this at all."
"It's fun to see the kids get so involved," adds DeNobile. "I'm hopeful he'll start picking up on the importance of giving back."
That feeling is echoed by Lower, who hopes the stand will instill a sense of values in Louise. "To her, it's just a happy experience. Her family comes out and she has fun," says Lower. For the public, it is a chance to meet the very kids who benefit from the fundraiser.
The stand has a new location on the lawn in front of the former Inn at Baxter on Market Street, with space for games and coloring from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The three families will take turns pouring lemonade throughout the day, "except for during naptime," says Lux.
"To our family, we see it as a celebration that our kids are well," Lower said.
This year, there's all the more reason to celebrate. In May, Louise reached the five-year milestone with no sign of cancer, which means she is officially cancer free. Let's drink to that.