January - Hendrickson High School
Posted by Kyndall Jirasek at 2/10/2016
Taking a Stand: Loss leads teachers to Philadelphia based cancer research foundation
Editor’s note: The following article is reprinted with permission. It originally appeared in the January edition of the Hawk newspaper at Hendrickson High School.
By Madi McVan, Copy Editor
Like most 8-year olds, Will Lucas loved Legos.
He loved them so much that with the help of his parents, he planned a lemonade stand to earn money to buy a new Lego set and colored a banner to advertise his business.
But before the Lucases got around to actually setting up the stand, they received news that Will, who had been battling a rare form of childhood cancer, has relapsed. He passed away in May of 2012, before he could hold his own lemonade stand.
They still have the banner.
Teachers Tom and Sara Lucas channel their grief for their son into work with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), benefiting those affected by childhood cancer. They organize lemonade and snack stands and other fundraisers around Pflugerville in memory of Will and donate the proceeds to ALSF.
“My sisters and I were looking to get together for a weekend and one of them found out about ALSF,” history teacher Sara Lucas said. “We were so impressed with what they did, and now it’s helping us with our grief and helping us parent our son who isn’t physically with us.”
ALSF began with a lemonade stand held by 4-year-old cancer patient Alexandra Scott, who created the stand to raise money for cancer research. Scott passed away in 2004 at the age of 8, but the foundation continued to grow.
In addition to donating money directly to the foundation through fundraisers, the Lucas family asked those who knew Will to donate the book “Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand” to local libraries. The book, geared towards children, tells the story of Alexandra Scott and her dedication to ending cancer. In the end, approximately 80 books were donated.
“It’s very fun to hear from librarians around the district,”Sara Lucas said. “They will read the books to students and the students will get all excited about it and hold lemonade stands of their own, which is really what we want. We want to empower people to make a difference in their world.”
Former principal Devin Padavil organized a student activity club in order to involve more students in fundraising for the foundation, which provides grants directly to doctors and scientists conducting research on childhood cancer.
“Believe it or not, very little of other cancer fundraising actually goes to helping kids,” Padavil said. “The club is Hendrickson's way of supporting that effort. I was inspired by the effort of Sara and Tom Lucas, teachers at Hendrickson and friends of mine. I was equally inspired by the life of their son, Will.”
Padavil appointed junior McKenely Scott president of the ALSF club at the end of her sophomore year. The club, sponsored by Sara Lucas, holds lemonade and snack stands, and plans on selling T-shirts in the near future.
“It’s students getting together to help find a cure for cancer by raising money or finding donations,” Scott said. “Helping people out is just something I like to do. This is a great way to help a lot of people at once.”
Because children account for only a small percentage of cancer patients in the US, many charities do not focus on funding research for childhood cancers. ALSF focuses specifically on finding a cure for childhood cancer, which is why the Lucas family chose to support it. The research funded by ALSF may lead to breakthroughs that could save kids like Will.
“When your child dies you don’t stop loving him,” Sara Lucas said. “The big fear is that you’re going to forget him. You want to know that you’re doing something that will help other kids and that you’re just honoring him. So it gives us a chance to talk about him, and to know that we are consciously doing something that honors his memory.”
Photos contributed by Sara Lucas