Relative’s breast cancer stirs 8-year-old to action

Eight-year-old Lekseea Givens, with her grandfather, Bryan Vanhoff, waits for customers at her lemonade stand in Spokane Valley on June 27. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. (Kathy Plonka)

Pink stand means more to her than just lemonade

In the summer, lemonade stands spring up in neighborhoods across the city.

Some kids hope to earn candy money. Some are saving for new bikes. Others just like the jingle of change in their pockets.

Lekseea Givens, 8, wants a cure for breast cancer.

Her bright pink stand features a carefully lettered sign: “Lemonade 50¢, All profits go to breast cancer research.”

While waiting for customers in front of her grandparents’ Spokane Valley home last week, Lekseea said, “My Auntie Dee had breast cancer. I wanted to think of a way to help other people stop getting breast cancer.”

Lekseea’s grandmother, Cindy Vanhoff, said, “Auntie Dee was my sister Deirdre Alheim. She died in May 2010. She was 49.”

Scanning the sidewalk for thirsty neighbors, Lekseea added, “Auntie Dee lived in Montana.”

Her grandmother nodded. “We all got to go see her a month before she passed away. It’s still hard to believe she’s gone.”

When the third-grader brought up the idea of raising funds for breast cancer research, her grandfather, Bryan Vanhoff, had an idea. “Papa said, ‘Why don’t we build a lemonade stand?’ ” Lekseea recalled.

And so they set to work.

Well Grandpa did anyway. He created a portable stand that folds easily. Handy built-in shelves offer a convenient place to store ice, cups and lemon slices. Lekseea chose the pink paint and her grandmother made her an apron that matches the stand.

Cindy Vanhoff visited the offices of the local Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate and received an enthusiastic response and lots of literature. Lekseea pointed to a stack of brochures and fliers resting on the counter of her lemonade stand next to her tip cup. “These are the papers I give out to people,” she said.

Now, all they needed was a steady stream of customers. But Cindy Vanhoff said their neighborhood doesn’t draw a lot of traffic, and Lekseea and her mom live in a condo – no place to set up a lemonade stand there.

However, they noticed garage sales lure loads of customers, and came up with an idea to generate even more funds. Cindy Vanhoff explained, “She wants to loan herself out to people in the Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake area and possibly the South Hill that are having yard sales this summer. Bryan and I will take turns taking her.”

They recently took her stand to a yard sale held to raise money for the Every Woman Can program. The pink stand and cute girl drew lots of attention and donations.

As Lekseea ran down her list of expenses, “Lemonade, lemons, cups …” she admitted, “I don’t like math.”

But one number sticks in her head. By summer’s end she said, “I want to raise at least $50.”

It’s available

If you would like Lekseea’s Lemonade Stand to come to your yard sale, contact Cindy Vanhoff at (509) 710-9853.

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