St. Jude patient and fundraising phenom Carson Ladage rallied hundreds (and hundreds of dollars) across Central Illinois in his seventh-annual Lemonade Raid.
It started with a rolling thunder of motorcycles Sunday, and the raid was off.
“When Carson was four, he was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor,” explained mom Darla. “A couple months later, when life was crazy and hectic, he comes to me and asked if he could do a lemonade stand in our front yard.”
She smiled, looking at the young man, standing next to her. “He said he wanted to do it so all the kids could get better, including himself.”
Carson has been battling cancer and raising money for St. Jude kids ever since.
As far as why a lemonade stand? Even the man himself doesn’t quite remember why.
“If I were to guess, I would say it was hot outside one day and I just came up with the idea,” said Carson.
Last year, the Ladage-lead raid raised over $26,000 for the kids of St. Jude.
This year, they’re aiming for $30,000.
“We’ve given over the course of the raid over $100,000 to St. Jude for research,” Darla proudly boasted.
2019 marked the raid’s biggest year yet at 14 stands spread across cities, towns and counties, and volunteers of all ages flocked to help.
“All kids should have the opportunity to do what they want, and have the help from everyone around them,” said Pekin High sophomore Kiersten Laws.
Fellow Dragon senior Caleb Tracy agreed: “No matter what position you’re in, you’re in a position to help other people. So you should, if you can.”
Carson’s tumor didn’t respond to chemo, radiation, or surgery – forcing the family into new, less-proven treatments.
The results spoke for themselves: Carson’s tumor shrunk to half the size.
“Because of the results that he’s had, they are making this a first-line treatment instead of surgery and chemotherapy and radiation.”
Through it all, Carson has helped bring his family and Central Illinois together.
“Many people have called him an old man’s soul,” said Carson’s grandmother, Josephine Godbey. “He just thinks of other people before he thinks of himself.”
And through it all, his strength and humor leaves everyone with one quote:
“When life gives you cancer, make lemonade.”