Friday night, June 25, 2004
"Life always gives you lemonade; sometimes it's in a crapy paper cup and sometimes it's in a fluted champagne glass."
- from a friend of a friend
While the rain poured down so did the blessings as Christi poured lemonade into paper cups and sat them up on her counter. The blessings we all felt today made us think we were toasting and thanking friends out of the finest of champagne glasses. Greetings to the Christi Crew! Here's what we've all be waiting to report:
LEMONADE LANE UPDATE: Wow! Wow! Wow! So you may wonder, did Christi meet her $100.00 goal? Well, try to say "nearly two thousand seven hundred dollars - $2,700" and tell us if she met her goal!! THANK YOU lovely friends, family, prayer partners, bank customers and strangers alike. $2,700 from a lemonade stand! AMAZING! One may think with that incredible amount of money collected from a lemonade stand that there must have been a lot of thirsty people in Tiffin needing to buy a drink, yet the reality is that on a cold, rainy June morning hot chocolate would have sold much better. Did all of the poor weather deter folks from coming out and standing in the rain and from giving a tremendous amount of love and support to Christi and her crusade? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! THANK YOU to the Christi Crew!!!
I believe it is every child's dream come true to have a lemonade stand (that actually has people stop by and at least a few coins collected too) well Christi's stand for a good cause was far more than that - and she's STILL BEAMING! Thank you! Dreams do come true!
Here are some of my observations from Christi's "customers": Some gave five cents, some wrote $100 checks, some drank lemonade, some didn't, some came up to the jar with tears pouring down their cheeks, some brought their own "to go" cups or take home containers to go share with their colleagues or husbands. Some wanted to hug and talk with Christi, others silently put money in the jar and turned away heading back to their cars. Some cancer survivors made themselves known which offered me hope and comfort that one day Christi may be able to go to another fighter's fundraiser and give them inspiration too. (So good to see survivors, especially little Holly - a lovely teacher's daughter and survivor from Clyde!!) I saw friends that I haven't seen since before Christi's 9/11/02 diagnosis and heard from prayer warriors sharing their love for Christi and what their churches have been doing for her. "I'm convinced that's why she's still here," I said quietly over and over all day to those confessing their daily prayers they offer up for her.
A friend stopped by, yet she herself is going in for surgery on Monday, another donated too much money as I know she has a family to support and currently doesn't have a full time job and to tell more about Lisa, her children also emptied their change purses into the jar as I blinked away my tears for witnessing such selfless acts of love. I witnessed them over and over and over for four hours straight - a steady, constant flow of traffic. Never too busy, never a standstill. We've heard nearly daily that Christi's journey has touched so many in such special ways. I think I was able to actually witness this today through my discussions and observations with God's great people.
Two sweet friends from Columbus drove two hours up to Tiffin just to say hello, to see Christi again and to bring her treats from Bath and Body Works! You see, their store has been following Christi's story since they came to Children's Hospital in October of 2002!! She was very sick then and I think they were surprised to see her feeling fabulous right now! (She is a miracle and my inspiration!!) I was totally blown away by their attendance from Columbus knowing they were turning around and driving right back home! Thank you! And Father Joe - having his own medical worries, just finished his treatment and came over to visit with us! So sweet!
I was also touched by a gentleman who shared with me that his son died months ago after fighting cancer for 8 years and that "we've got to find a cure for this". I couldn't agree more! Again meeting another "Angel Parent" leaves me with huge questions and more guilt. My heart just bled for him as his raw pain was quite obvious. May God provide comfort and strength. Also particularly moving was a beautiful man from the Seneca Re-Ad's who handed me a heavy envelope with a huge smile on his face as the individuals on each side of him explained the collection of change . Their card I opened tonight says it all:
Christi, For the past three days the Opportunity Center has sold lemonade for donations. Enclosed is the $50.00 that we collected to help with your wonderful cause. Best of Luck! From the Staff and Individuals at the Seneca County Opportunity Center.
Now doesn't that just make you shake your head? Like I said on the news, "God's people are good!" I'm certain I'm overlooking folks at this very late hour and after having only had about four hours of sleep last night so I hope I don't hurt anyone's feelings by not sharing our special moments we shared together today in front of the bank. I thank you from the bottom of my paper lemonade cup!
I also thank Tiffin City Mayor (and former teacher) - Bernie Hohman! Here's the Mayor's proclamation which was presented to her around noon today in front of the bank along with Old Fort Bank President & CEO - Mike Kershner:
WHEREAS, 7 year old Christi Thomas has been battling Neuroblastoma for almost two years, and
WHEREAS, Christi Thomas has continued to fight valiantly with optimism, cheerfulness and strength, and
WHEREAS, Christi's friend Alexandra Scott, also battling Neuroblastoma, is the 8 year old founder of Alex's Lemonade Stand for Pediatric Cancer Research and has raised over $200,000 for pediatric cancer, and
WHEREAS, Christi will be helping to raise money for pediatric cancer research by setting up a lemonade stand at the Old Fort Banking Company - Westgate Office on Friday, June 15th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Bernard J. Hohman, May or of the City of Tiffin, Ohio do hereby proclaim June 25, 2004 as:
CHRISTI THOMAS DAY
in the City of Tiffin and urge all citizens to join with me in patronizing Christi's lemonade stand at the Old Fort Banking Company and donating to this very worthwhile endeavor.
Done under My Hand This 24th day of June in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Four.
Bernard J. Hohman, Mayor
Just as we were closing up my van to take everything back home, three vehicles pulled up waving money out the windows asking, "Am I too late?" Christi was inside (behind the bank counters with the tellers - VERY cool!) the bank having the sweet ladies total her collection. When the collections from the day totaled $2,260 an Old Fort Bank customer watching the action behind the counter gave back $40.00 he just withdrew and said, "Is that the little girl selling lemonade? Here. Now you have an even amount." So kind! (Yet, somehow someone slipped her two more dollars as we had our big check written out for Alex's Lemonade Fund and were heading out the door.) $2,262 - very kind and generous angels here on earth! Thank you!
After we added in the money she had received through the mail before the lemonade stand, the amount increased, and she was very anxious to call Alex. We needed to wait as I knew it was Friday and Alex is always at CHOP on Fridays. Finally, we called Alex and Christi excitedly told Liz, "I collected almost $3,000 for Alex's fund." It was darling! Liz and Christi chatted a bit then it was my turn I was able to ask Liz how she looks so fabulous and thin on TV when all I noticed was that I looked fat when Christi & I watched the 5:00 broadcast on Channel 11. When she laughed and responded, "That's exactly why I haven't yet watched the show she did live in New York City yesterday," I had to giggle along with her!
In addition to Hardees providing all of the needed cups and ice, McDonald's loaned us their coolers, Viewpoint Graphics lovely yellow tee shirts for our volunteers, Rush Printing provided the lovely "Christi & Alex's Lemoande Stand" tee shirts for the Old Fort Bank employees, the awesome Attica Hub (which prompted the visit of my former Miss Ohio week chaperone whom I've not seen in years - the former kindergarten teacher and now school board member - awesome Mary Jean!!) the Advertiser Tribune, Country Time Lemonade, Nick & Shayna for the use of their darling lemonade stand, and certainly all of the kind and generous "customers" who attended or sent in loving donations! WTTF Radio station for letting Christi take her crusade to the airways on Tuesday, WTOL - news Channel 11 (out of Toledo, Ohio) Denise Martin, Mike Kershner and the Old Fort Bank folks for their hard work love and support, and of course - Jay, Liz Scott and ALEX- our fearless leader!
Our Lemonade Lane Volunteers: Mike, Becky, Donna, Caroline and Taylor were TREMENDOUS! Unbelievable folks actually. Mike and Becky both worked night shifts before coming in and working for Christi's crusade and Grandma Donna took a vacation day from work. Caroline brought the most awesome bouquet of yellow balloons and carried and lifted so many heavy items I hope she can get out of bed tomorrow! (Thanks, you awesome friends I don't deserve!!!)
WTOL news (Channel 11 - Toledo) did a charming story! Very light and upbeat about folks rallying together to support a great cause. I will admit it was a complete shock to receive a 7:15 AM phone call from them this morning asking a bunch of questions and then to get another phone call 15 minutes later from them asking for directions to our house. Quickly, I explained the generosity of the Old Fort Bank in offering their facility for Christi & Alex's Lemonade Stand so that there would be more customers for Christi and that shouldn't come to our house because there were no lemonade stands planned in the entire neighborhood today. (hee hee) Here's the link to the Lemonade story on Toledo 11.
Christi never tired of her cause and continued to continually fill lemonade cups (putting the squeeze on cancer) for four hours on this chilly morning. She's definitely fighting something sour, yet doing something so sweet to try to help herself and to help others. Kids can't fight cancer alone and we thank you for your loving help!
Following the very exciting and uplifting event, I took her to get her blood counts checked at Dr. Vela's office - where he also gave her a very nice donation to the fund. Wow! Her blood counts were also pleasantly surprising and uplifting: Hemoglobin 10.5 and platelets 90! She appears to still be holding her own as these counts were both up from Monday morning. I haven't seen a drop in them yet - perhaps we won't. This little pioneer is certainly charting brand new territory and so much is not known; however, in comparing her counts from the last cycle- she had already started rapidly dropping by this time. Hmmmmmmm. Keep going up blood counts!!! Lord, hear our prayers!
Following the event, Shayla came home and along with the neighbor boy set up their lemonade stand in our bathroom. Their sign was hung upside down on the door way which was a total hoot and they turned over a bucket on the bathroom rug, made their own lemonade (I don't even want to know!) and then started having other neighbors come into our home and into our bathroom to buy a cup of lemonade from Shayla too! I started to freak out as we were in the midst of dinner, looking at the photos we took of the day and unpacking the van back into the house when adults started walking in my house - much to my surprise! I decided I had better just apologize for my lack of housekeeping and start laughing with them. God bless little Shayla!
This week was a very "normal" one. Christi attended Girl Scout day camp which was absolutely fabulous while Shayla attended "Camp Nonee's" (aka Grandma and Paw Paw's) which was equally as fabulous! On Tuesday Christi and Shayne took to the airways to promote her lemonade stand. I am taking my third class with a sweet, sweet Education Professor from Heidleberg, so as I drove to meet my carpool I was listening to the broadcast with tears pouring down my cheeks. Hearing Christi's little voice talk about her first meeting Alex at CHOP last August and then reading the first pages in Alex's new book was just precious. I couldn't help but feel tremendous love from Above to still be in this fight. Alexandra's book is currently on sale for 30% off at Barnes and Noble's website. All proceeds go to Alex's fund and I hope you consider making a purchase. I don't know how long the sale will last, but I do now you won't be disappointed by the quality of literature. The story is not about cancer, but about kids helping kids. Awesome stuff!
This morning while setting up in the rain, my dearest friend volunteering on very little sleep herself said, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you rain, make a rainbow," and thanks to God's kind and loving folks here on earth I think we did just that! And just like the rainbow in the Bible - we have HOPE for a promise to come about from all of this fundraising happening around the country started by Alexandra's efforts! Well, I am very drained after an incredibly emotional day filled with hugs, tears and love. Here's wishing you and yours a great weekend! ENJOY!
Yours in Christ,
Christ's Joke: Forgot to ask her and she's sound asleep now - most likely dreaming "sweet" dreams of serving lemonade to so many children and adults today. She went to bed hugging "Peace" a large, colorful Ty bear lovingly given to her today by some faithful Prayer Warriors in a cool, cool car! Thank you!
Shayla's Funnies: While Shayla was playing restaurant with me this week and served me a strawberry complete with the stem I responded after taking a bite, "This strawberry is delicious and satisfying too." Shayla said, "Yes, it's fresh right from the refrigerator." (So her Mother isn't a gardener; therefore, we get things "fresh" from the fridge! hee hee!)
What's Next? Blood counts twice and a doctor's visit to be conducted this week. No chemo so lots of vitamins and other good herbal "fixes" to try to beef up her immune system to kill these neuroblastoma cells on its own. All children have neuroblastoma cells in their bodies. We're hoping her body can be trained to kill those cells on her own too - just like most kids' bodies do. When her blood counts recover she'll start her 3rd cycle of ABT - 751. Following the third cycle, she'll make a quick trip back to CHOP for tests/scans. I expect this to be in August. Hopefully, her disease will be stable or reduced and she can continue on with this ABT indefinitely. We know it won't cure her, yet we hope it can "just" hold her stable long enough until a real cure is found. And hopefully, thanks to little Alex Scott and her Lemonade Stand Fund a cure will be found very soon! Next week little Shayla will be going to the zoo with Doug and Caroline while I'm at class and Christi will get to go to "Camp Nonee's" for a few days like Shayla did last week. We've been blessed!! Please pray for Alexandra Scott and for all of our hurting friends - big and little. Thank you!!
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Shayne & Angela Thomas: firstname.lastname@example.org