Four suburban girls have taken to setting up lemonade stands to raise money for seriously ill children whose parents are contending with medical expenses.
Called the Lemonade Brigade, the girls will complete a three-day effort at Veterans Memorial Park in McHenry from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, raising cash for 17-year-old Savanna Suberla of Lakemoor.
Suberla has neurofibromatosis, a disorder of the nervous system that affects how nerve cells grow and form, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Suberla's Type 2 neurofibromatosis can cause hearing loss, balance problems and ringing in the ears. It has no cure.
Two of the organizers, Aubrey Hennig, 12, of McHenry, and Samantha Parrish, 13, from Woodstock, were stationed off Pearl Street at the park Friday afternoon, holding signs and asking drivers to pull over to buy "lemonade for a great cause." Aubrey took a break to explain why the girls want to raise money for others.
"Well, I like having lemonade stands and I think it's just fun to be out there and get active," Aubrey said. "And you know, hey, while we're out and active, why don't we raise money for somebody who needs it more than us?"
Aubrey, who has tried to spread the word on social media, said she hopes other children notice the Lemonade Brigade and imitate it to benefit a worthy cause this weekend. The worldwide lemonade stand idea so far has led to Canada and Uganda, plus 10 other suburban locations including at Harvard Milk Days on Saturday and Holiday Hills village hall Sunday.
On Friday, the Lemonade Brigade was out from noon to about 6 p.m. with a stand near the Veterans Memorial Park gazebo offering four kinds of drinks at $1 for a small cup and $2 for large.
They also had logoed Lemonade Brigade merchandise such as hair accessories, sports bottles and T-shirts.
Aubrey said the Lemonade Brigade hopes to raise $5,000 for Savanna. Since Brigade sales began in earnest last October they have collected an estimated $30,000 to help families with sick kids both locally and internationally, said Aubrey's mother, Chrissy Christiansen.
Savanna and her mom, Becky Lanckhoff, were at the park to see the young volunteers work on their behalf.
"This just means a lot that they came out here and took time in their day to support me," said Savanna.
Lanckhoff, a single mother whose work hours recently were cut, said she appreciates the fundraising to help defray out-of-pocket medical expenses from her daughter's illness.
"I am so glad they are at that (young) age and willing to be supportive of someone in need, pretty much," she said.
Morgan LoMonaco, 12, of McHenry; and 8-year-old Kailyn Fanning from Lake in the Hills are the other two girls who helped create Lemonade Brigade. The organizers have been helped by Stephanie Schaefer, 9, and 7-year-old Kristina Schaefer, both of McHenry.
Christiansen said Lemonade Brigade started with a couple of small-scale fundraisers before accelerating about eight months ago. She said potential beneficiaries have been solicited over Facebook.
"It's been amazing," she said.