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Published: Sunday, 6/12/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Lemonade stand at Rec Center tries for record, fights childhood cancer

BY TRACI TILLMAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Connor Bell, 6, and his dad, Dave, talk with Inside Angles employee Amber Wilkie, right. Connor, who has osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, was the inspiration for the lengthy lemonade stand. Connor Bell, 6, and his dad, Dave, talk with Inside Angles employee Amber Wilkie, right. Connor, who has osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, was the inspiration for the lengthy lemonade stand.
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For most children, playing soccer at the Lucas County Recreation Center would make for a fairly typical weekend afternoon — but 6-year-old cancer survivor Connor Bell’s game of pass Saturday was far from ordinary.

Connor was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, in July, 2009 — the day after his mother signed him up for a soccer team.

His parents had to recall the paperwork as the youngster underwent treatment for two years.

Now, with his cancer in remission and the prosthetic leg he received after doctors performed surgery in May, he tested out his soccer skills beside a 2,614-foot-long lemonade stand.

Set up to raise awareness and funds for cancer research, the lengthy lemonade stand was the work of David and Wendy Justus, Scott DuBois, and others — all of whom the Bells met while Connor was treated at Toledo Children’s Hospital.

Eric Reynolds, his sister Fionne Wright, center, and Catherine Robinson staff one of the tables set up at the Lucas County Recreation Center in the bid to set a world record for the longest lemonade stand. Eric Reynolds, his sister Fionne Wright, center, and Catherine Robinson staff one of the tables set up at the Lucas County Recreation Center in the bid to set a world record for the longest lemonade stand.
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“Children are our future. One of these kids might grow up to find a cure for cancer,” Connor’s mother, Vonnie Bell, said as she watched her son dribble the soccer ball.

“Anything that supports funds going to children’s cancer research, you can’t pass up the opportunity to help.”

But there’s an extra kick behind this fund-raising effort.

Together with Northcoast University’s Department of Standing Ovations and about 250 volunteers, Mr. and Mrs. Justus and Mr. DuBois lined up 55 tables in an attempt to set the Guinness world record for the Longest Lemonade Stand, under the “longest temporary bar” category.

All proceeds will be donated to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national organization that supports cancer research, and the Justuses’ Bake-A-Difference Foundation, which helps Toledo families struggling through childhood cancer.

“People are excited because it’s a great cause to help children with cancer, but to also help break a Guinness world record is pretty unique,” Mr. Justus said.

Gabriel DuBois, the son of Mr. DuBois and Mrs. Justus, was the inspiration for Bake-A-Difference.

Logan Cook, 10, of Perrysburg signs in at the Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, Division 385, table, a link in what organizers hope tops 2,571.5 feet, the current record. Fifty-five tables were used to form the lemonade stand. Logan Cook, 10, of Perrysburg signs in at the Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, Division 385, table, a link in what organizers hope tops 2,571.5 feet, the current record. Fifty-five tables were used to form the lemonade stand.
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Gabriel died April 26, 2010, at age 8, having been given a diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs in November, 2009.

A few months after their son died, Mr. DuBois and the Justuses began planning their attempt to set the lemonade stand record to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

They also began the foundation to honor their young son, who loved baking brownies, cookies, and pizza — he even ran a small pizza business while undergoing treatment, his parents said.

After a year of publicity, Mr. Justus said the Bake-A-Difference Foundation accumulated 100 sponsors and several donors, who provided enough money to rent the venue, make T-shirts, and purchase the ingredients for the lemonade and treats.

Hundreds of visitors paid between $1 and $20 for the tickets required to enjoy a cup of 850 gallons of lemonade made yesterday and Gabriel’s favorite baked goods.

The Bake-A-Difference Foundation will use its portion of the proceeds to buy gift cards for families fighting cancer at the Toledo Hospital.

Mrs. Justus hopes the families will use the gift cards for anything they might need — from meals to toys — because “any little bit makes a difference,” she said.

Mrs. Bell said she recalled the difference her neighbors made while her son went through treatment.

Because Mrs. Bell barely had the energy to eat — let alone make dinner — she said her neighbors and other families organized a meal drive for the Bells.

Mary Rumschlag of Maumee and a volunteer at the event, left, gets a plate of chicken from Scott McDole of Granite City Food and Brewery, which donated the food. The event was to help children fight cancer. Mary Rumschlag of Maumee and a volunteer at the event, left, gets a plate of chicken from Scott McDole of Granite City Food and Brewery, which donated the food. The event was to help children fight cancer.
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Her neighbors would also restock the family’s refrigerator with milk daily, a “little gesture” she said proved “immeasurable.”

Mrs. Justus agreed families like hers and Mrs. Bells “couldn’t get through it without community.”

Gabriel’s storybrought together 40 sponsors and 250 volunteers to help sell lemonade, paint faces, supervise the inflatable “Jumpy House” for children, and man a photo booth.

Sue Runkle, owner of custom framing gallery Inside Angles, which was an event sponsor, operated the photo booth with fellow photographer Amber Wilkie.

Though they had been at the Recreation Center since 8:45 a.m., they said they were prepared to see the event through to the end in order to support the cause.

In addition to surpassing the length of the current longest temporary bar, 2,571.5 feet, the volunteers and sponsors had to man the tables for eight hours to break the record.

A Guinness official walked around the snake-shaped lemonade stand to ensure the tables were adequately staffed throughout the day.

After submitting documents, the record-tracking company will determine whether the Bake-A-Wish Foundation succeeded in setting the new record for the “longest temporary bar.” Mr. Justus expects Guinness to inform them of the results in August.

Contact Traci Tillman at: ttillman@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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