Debbie Quigley
Kids from the Saunders and Quigley families work to attract some business for their lemonade stand in May. The lemonade stand is a finalist in a national lemonade-stand contest sponsored by Inc. magazine. The stand received $5,459 in donations, which will go toward pediatric cancer research.

KAYSVILLE — The seven kids in the Saunders and Quigley families had a goal of raising $1,000 by selling lemonade at 50 cents a cup.

On a neighbor's recommendation, however, they broke the established business models for generating profits and made their product free, relying on the generosity of their community to raise money to support pediatric cancer research.

All told, people donated $5,459 — as well as 50 Mexican centavos and a Canadian penny — in the two days this past May when the stand was in operation.

This past week, the seven kids were chosen by readers of Inc. magazine as weekly winners in a national lemonade-stand contest. The children are now competing for the grand prize of a $1,000 savings bond.

"I'd had a lemonade stand before, but it really didn't get any business," said Valerie Saunders, 11. "This stand helped me realize all the neighbors and friends really cared about us."

While the two families are thrilled about more than quintupling their goal, they didn't just open the stand for charity. The lemonade sale was a way for the them — who have both dealt with the pain and frustration of having a child battle cancer — to fight the feelings of helplessness that plague siblings who want to help.

Eliza Saunders, 3, was diagnosed with a type of liver cancer earlier this year and has undergone chemotherapy and surgery. She finished her last chemotherapy session on Tuesday. Elizabeth Quigley, 16, learned four years ago that she had a form of leukemia. She went through 2 1/2 years of chemotherapy and has been cancer-free since 2006.

Debbie Quigley and April Saunders pitched the lemonade-stand idea to the kids in their families after they were talking one day about the difficulties that siblings of patients have. The two mothers thought it would be a good way for the children to cope with the situation and feel like they were helping.

The parents were around to answer questions and offer support, but the group of youngsters took over the grunt work of running the stand and drumming up publicity. Nathan Quigley, 14, and Matthew Saunders, 7, posted flyers around shops and schools in town. Valerie Saunders and Elizabeth Quigley, along with Katherine Quigley, 12, and Emily Quigley, 11, made the posters and signs to capture the attention of passers-by.

On May 30 and 31, the days of the event, the group mixed batches of lemonade, and neighbors delivered batch after batch of cookies for the fundraiser.

"If it started to get slow, we got out in the street and waved our signs," Emily Quigley said. "One guy who stopped said it was the sign that got his attention."

Matthew Saunders was in charge of the cash box for the stand, and in relinquishing his typically shy nature for the day, he yelled and hollered like a carnival barker to grab the attention of onlookers, Debbie Quigley said.

All of the money raised by the families was donated to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit organization that began with a front-yard lemonade sale by a 4-year-old cancer patient named Alex Scott. The foundation raises money for pediatric cancer research.

"If you give people a good cause, they will respond," Debbie Quigley said. "We asked for support battling the cancer monster, and our neighbors responded far beyond what we asked for."


E-mail: cnorlen@desnews.com