TOWNSHIP – CJ and Cree McAfee had found a classic way to make money so they could buy a hoverboard – sell lemonade.
After telling mom, however, the younger brothers quickly changed their minds and came up with another plan – to use a lemonade stand to raise money for kids battling cancer.
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Their mother, Megan McAfee, quickly got to work on social media, looking for a charity to help boys find children in need.
She connected with the Little Pink Ribbon Girl Foundation in County Stark and also got support from several local businesses including Mission BBQ, Chick-fil-A, Gregory’s Family Restaurant, Sprinkle City, Acme Fresh Market, In the Mix Bakery. Halfsies Cookie Co., Fresh Mark and Coco’s Confectionary Kitchen.
âWe found the foundation,â McAfee said. âBut (the boys) were the ones who said they wanted to help kids with cancer. I just said, ‘If we’re going to do it, let’s do it big.’
âIt makes us so proud that they wanted to do it,â McAfee said of her and her husband, Chris.
The efforts of the Canton boys earned them recognition as Canton Repository âUnsung Heroesâ in 2021.
Asked about their goodwill, the brothers responded mainly with their smiles, but said helping children struggling with illness made them “happy.”
Cree, 7, is a second grade student and CJ, 9, a third grade student at St. Michael’s School, part of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Plain Township.
âI am so grateful to these two little boys who are such an inspiration,â said Katie Vitale-Lloyd of the Little Pink Ribbon Girl Foundation. âAnd that they choose us is such an honor.
âI think it’s just amazing that these boys came up with this ideaâ¦ and that they just pitched it,â she said. “And they’re such an inspiration to our community, and everyone is trying to make such a big impact when a little impact is enough.”
Little girl with pink ribbon
The Little Pink Ribbon Girl Foundation honors the late Angie Vitale Conley.
The foundation’s mission is to help individuals and families struggling with the financial burden of cancer.
For more information and to find out how to donate to the foundation, ask for help, or volunteer to serve on the board, visit www.littlepinkribbongirl.org/.
The foundation is also present on social networks at www.facebook.com/Lprgfoundation
âMy sister had this vision to help others, and it was kind of her life in a nutshell,â Vitale-Lloyd said of Conley. “She was a special education teacher. She always wanted to just help the children, it was natural for her.”
“Little Pink Ribbon Girl” is a reference to Conley’s 5ft 1 height.
Conley was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27 before it metastasized to her lungs and brain. She died in 2014 at the age of 36.
She graduated in 1996 from Central Catholic High School in Perry Township, and after graduating from Bowling Green State University, she was employed by the Stark County Educational Service Center and taught at Minerva Middle School.
The Little Pink Ribbon Girl Foundation started in 2018.
âIt’s not just breast cancer,â Vitale Lloyd said of the foundation’s work. “It helps any cancer.”
She said the foundation provides grants to women and men with cancer.
The lemonade stand took place in June in The Uniform Guy’s parking lot on Whipple Avenue NW, where Megan McAfee is employed.
Lemonade, hot dogs, crisps and cookies were sold. Daddy’s grilled hot dogs. Mom helped. The boys poured and distributed lemonade. Grandparents were also involved. Representatives of the Little Pink Ribbon Girl Foundation were in attendance.
Canton Police Officer LaMar Sharpe of the Be A Better Me Foundation also provided support for the lemonade stand and fundraising.
Donations were generous, with some patrons paying for a combined $ 4 meal with a $ 20, $ 50, or $ 100 ticket while donating all the money to fundraising.
A total of $ 2,100 was raised.
The boys also donated a total of $ 200 in tips to the Little Pink Ribbon Girl Foundation, which then donated the funds raised at the lemonade stand to two Stark County children and their families.
‘Really, really sweet’
Earlier this month, Cree and CJ and their parents met 3-year-old Spencer Gott of Perry Township and handed over part of the funds to his family.
The remainder of the funds went to a second Stark County child with cancer.
Spencer’s mother, Stacy Gott, expressed her deep gratitude for the help, noting that the involvement of the two young boys made her very special.
Stacy and her husband, Broc, have three more sons: Landon, 12, Carson, 9, and Beckett, 6.
âComing from a family with a lot of boys, it was really cool that they spent their summer doing something like this,â she said. âA small amount, we told people we were grateful.
âWe had a garage sale, and we had people buying things for a quarter, and I would say to people who buy toys for 50 cents, I’m not going to refuse anything.
“In the big picture, it’s a larger amount, so we’re very grateful to the boys and their lemonade stand.”
Texas special treatment
The money raised helped cover expenses incurred by the Gott family on a recent trip to the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, where Spencer received treatment.
The family spent three weeks in Houston for Spencer’s antineoplaston therapy, an alternative treatment, which is now given at home with an infusion pump that runs all day, said Stacy Gott.
Spencer was diagnosed in April with a brainstem tumor and promptly underwent surgery, Stacy Gott said.
âSo far it is benign, so it should not be spread like cancer,â she said.
âWe heard different things from different doctors,â added the mother. âSome say it’s cancer. Some of them say it’s benign (not cancerous).
âWe’re seeing an oncologist,â Gott added. “I always call it a tumor.”
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are other options, but Gott said she and her husband wanted to try the alternative treatment first without so many side effects for the child.
When Spencer met the McAfee family recently, the 3-year-old was shy because he didn’t know Cree, CJ, and their parents.
Chris McAfee, however, said Spencer has finally warmed up towards the visitors.
âIn church he’s nicknamed ‘Smiley Spencer’,â Stacy Gott said. “That’s what he normally is; that’s how he always is, and we always said he was our last perfect baby because he was so happy.”
A sweet tradition begins
Megan McAfee said the boys are planning to hold another lemonade stand fundraiser in 2022.
Vitale-Lloyd of the LIttle Pink Ribbon Girl Foundation expects more generosity from the fraternal duo.
âI can’t imagine what they’re going to do next year,â she said. “I’m just honored that they chose us and let us be a part of it as well.”
Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected]
On Twitter @ebalintREP
The Canton Repository is celebrating âunsung heroesâ this week through our Advancing Our Community program and the Clayton G. Horn Award of Excellence. They are regular residents of Stark County who selflessly give in the community and deserve to be recognized for their efforts.
The Repository has solicited nominations from our readers. Four different personalities are highlighted this year.
They aren’t the only good people in County Stark. If you know of other people who are worth celebrating, send an email to [email protected]