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Lemonade stand fundraiser is Cranberry girl's very personal quest

| Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 11:39 a.m.
Inside Alex's Lemonade “Grand” Stand last year were front, from left, Olivia Phillips, Paul Amado, Lauren Rodgers and Marc Amado; middle row, Meghan Rodgers, Harrison Silvester, Spencer Nehr, Grace Phillips and Matthew Rodgers; and back, Anthony Colangelo, Kate Silvester and Gabby Nehr. Submitted photo
For four years, the Silvester family of Cranberry has worked to organize a fundraiser for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Lori and David have let their children, Kate, 12, and Harrison, 9, learn the joys of helping others. Submitted photo

Little girls aren't supposed to lose friends to nasty diseases.But it happened to Kate Silvester, 12, when her good friend, Rehanna Lydon, died last summer after pediatric cancer struck the young girl for the second time.The strength of that friendship has kept Kate actively engaged in yet another Alex's Lemonade Stand fundraiser to be held at Fun Fore All Family Entertainment Center in Cranberry Township on June 23."I don't want any child to have to go through what Rehanna went through," Kate said."I don't want any other family to have to go through what her family went through."During Rehanna's last weeks, Kate visited the hospital every day."She spent hours with her," Lori Silvester, her mom, said."She wanted (Rehanna) to be treated as normally as possible."The two friends stayed together even on difficult days, a fact that Kate's mom finds amazing. "She handled it well," she saidThis event also honors the memory of Henry Keating Scheck, a young friend of the family who died of cancer in 2009.This is the fourth year for the Silvester family — mom, dad, David, brother, Harrison, 9, and Kate — have organized the day of fun to support the lemonade stand foundation, which raises money to help find cures for childhood cancers. The foundation began in 2000 when Alexandra Scott, 4, held a lemonade sale in Connecticut to help doctors take care of sick children just like herself. At the time of death four years later, her project already had raised more than $1 million.This year at Fun Fore All, the event will launch the "help '12" project. The name stands for hope, enjoy, laugh and play 2012.Area children who are undergoing cancer treatments and survivors are invited to participate in a day of games, rides, food and fun. "This will offer the kids a day away from the hospital and treatment," said Silvester.She remembered how Rehanna had enjoyed herself at the lemonade stand in 2011 when she served as honorary hostess."She didn't worry about her cancer," Silvester said.A child and a guest can ride go-carts, play games and enjoy lemonade and lunch at the center from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Those who attend also will visit with the Pirate Parrot and Garrison Carida's Star Wars characters and take part in the PNC Cash Cube game, a dunk tank, face painting, Eat'n Park cookie decorating and basket raffles.Teachers from Evans City Elementary and Middle schools, Harrison's and Kate's schools respectively, have volunteered for the dunk tank."It's a nice draw for the kids," she said.Silvester estimates that 5,000 flyers were distributed in Seneca Valley's elementary and middle schools. Area corporate and business sponsors offer continuing encouragement to the Silvesters."Each year, word keeps getting out," she said.Last year, $10,000 was raised. She's hoping for $20,000 this year.Chris Camp, owner of Fun Fore All since 2000, has been with her from the beginning.Her simple request for a donation became a partnership."I thought it was a really great idea," Camp said.For a $5 or $10 donation to Alex's foundation, kids can receive a card of equal value for the center's activities.Everything on site will be open.This year, Kate will help with the face painting and the dunk tank."Kate wants to spend time with the pediatric cancer kids," Silvester said.Alex's Lemonade Stand fundraiser has become a passion for the family. And it's a great way to involve students of any age in the project."Nobody ever knows when family members are going to be struck," she said. "This is awesome for kids to learn how to give back and how to care for others."Camp and his Fun Fore All staff are in it for the long haul."As long as Lori wants to keep doing the leg work, we'll offer the park and assist in the work," Camp said.To register a pediatric cancer patient or survivor for "help ‘12," contact Lori Silvester via email at lsilvester@zoominternet.net or by phone at 724-831-1014.

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