Every day we hear heartbreaking stories of children who are bravely fighting cancer, and as kind humans, we rally around their families and help any way we can. Out of all those stories, though, I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered one about a child who is suffering from cancer going out of his way to help other kids with cancer.
That’s why Benjamin Burke, a 7-year-old from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, has stolen my heart.
On December 11, 2015, just days after his seventh birthday, Burke went to the pediatrician for a suspected ear infection. Later that evening, his doctor instructed his parents to bring him to the hospital immediately, and the next day he was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He immediately started undergoing treatment at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and is currently nine months into his three-and-a-half-year treatment plan.
Last winter, Benjamin, an avid baseball fan, met Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma himself who makes monthly visits to the pediatric floor. Benjamin bonded with Rizzo and decided he wanted to give back via the first baseman’s charity, The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, so he asked his mother if he could have a lemonade stand.
“I decided it would be good to give the money from the lemonade stand to the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation,” Benjamin tells Babble.
“When you have cancer, you don’t feel good sometimes. Anthony can use the money we got to help other kids with cancer. ”
In a CaringBridge blog post titled, “When Life Hands You Lemons, Make a Lemonade Stand,” his mother, Jennie Burke, wrote about how the lemonade and treat stand came to fruition.
“Immediately the boys started working on posters and while Benjamin was home one day feeling yucky, he made an adorable video inviting people to his stand,” she wrote.
“In a matter of days we Facebook marketed, had friends help with a tent, tables, decor etc. and I baked about 420 brownies and Oreo Burke Bars:)”
The lemonade stand was open for business over Labor Day weekend at the family’s home — coincidentally, occurring just days after Anthony Rizzo’s eighth anniversary of beating Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was a success to say the least. In addition to making over $10k, The Case Law Firm, owned by a friend of the family, generously offered to match the donation up to $10k. Currently Benjamin’s lemonade stand has raised over $20k, and has moved online.
“Proud of my friend Benjamin who raised 20k for ARFF,” Rizzo tweeted. “Battling cancer himself he is standing up and helping others.”
I think what is truly amazing about Benjamin is that he could have used this lemonade stand to raise money directly for himself and his own medical bills, but he opted to use it to help others. Even though he is in need, he put other people before himself.
Now that’s what I call a hero.
If you would like to buy a virtual glass of lemonade, you can make a donation on Benjamin’s team fundraising page for The Anthony Rizzo Foundation by clicking here. The Burke family also has established a YouCaring site to cover Benjamin’s medical costs.More On