Children rally community for ALS research

Arell Nankervis was getting nervous. The lemonade stand that her three children had set up outside was not going well.

“For 45 minutes they were out there, and no one came,” Nankervis said

Nankervis promoted the stand on social media, mentioning that the children would be donating all proceeds to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research. The disease, commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, causes degeneration in the nerves and spinal cord. Medication and therapy can slow ALS but there is no cure and no way to stop its progression.

“My 9-year-old son Easton is a big Yankees fan, and and he can tell you anything about Lou Gehrig because he researched him last year for a school project,” Nankervis said. “Shortly after that he learned a neighbor has ALS.”

Easton, and his siblings Baker, 7, and Sonny, 4, had run a lemonade stand last summer, and were eager to do it again, Arell said.

“They were talking about what they would do with the money they made, and they thought about donating it to juvenile cancer, or to sports programs, but they ultimately decided on ALS research,” she said.

And so, on the hottest day of the year, the three mixed two boxes of Country Time lemonade, and waited for customers. And waited.

“It was a nightmare, it was hot and no one was coming,” Arell said.

But as word spread on social media, people began trickling in. Then the trickle became a flood.

“People began coming in from all over town,” she said. “They were selling lemonade for 50 cents a cup, and people were taking a cup and giving them $5, $10, $20.”

During one lull in business, Arell posted a photo of Easton sitting on the curb holding his ALS sign, and the photo inspired a woman to get into her car and drive across town to buy a cup, and donate a healthy tip.

“The kids were out there for five hours until it started raining, and I had to drag them inside because it was pouring,” she said.

The five hours of work had raised just over $348, which they took to the bank to get a cashier’s check made out to the ALS Association. When they presented the check to their neighbor’s house, his family matched it. But the story doesn’t end there. A few days later, the children received another donation from family friends whose daughter is an ALS nurse.

“They came over and told them they were sorry they missed the lemonade stand, but they would like to make a donation … of $304,” Arell said. “The look on their faces when they realized they had raised $1,000 for ALS research was amazing. Don’t try to tell these kids that a little idea can’t create big things, because they will prove you wrong.”

Though it was three children who did the mixing and pouring, Arell said the entire community deserves credit for the outpouring of generosity.

“We stood out there with a table, but it was amazing the see how the entire community supported it,” she said. “Thank you … for showing everyone that if we just work together we can do great things.”