ORLAND PARK, IL – When Candice Bielski’s then 8-year-old son told her in February 2018 that he wanted to host a lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to charity, she had no idea his idea would turn into an annual two-day event which now boasts a brokerage sponsorship and a donated lemonade cart.
Austin, now 11, will host his fourth “Cups 4 Cancer” lemonade stand from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., every day on July 20 and 21 in front of Bielski’s home, 12056 Lake View Drive, Orland Park. All proceeds benefit the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation — a nonprofit organization in Orland Park that provides toys to children undergoing medical treatment, according to its website.
When Austin originally approached Bielski about hosting the lemonade stand, she thought of donating the money to the Ronald McDonald House. However, the mother and son learned about the Treasure Chest Foundation through Bielski’s grandmother, Dorothy Barron, who knit hats for the foundation along with her neighbors in the Thomas House Orland Park retirement community.
“After speaking with Austin, he said, ‘I want to donate the money to the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation,'” Bielski said.
Austin raised more than $100 for the foundation that year, Bielski said, and he was just getting started.
The following summer, mother and son added water bottles, fruit kebobs and sugar-free lemonade to their offerings, Bielski said, raising more than $1,000.
And even the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t stop the lemonade stand. Last year, it raised more than $2,000 — all while adhering to pandemic precautions, such as wearing masks and gloves when handing out ready-to-drink cups of lemonade.
“Last year we thought it was extremely important to blow the target out of the water and have the lemonade stand,” Bielski said. “Just because COVID was trying to shut the world down, we wouldn’t let it affect helping children and families in need. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t just stop.”
This year, Cups 4 Cancer continues to grow – through both a donated lemonade stand and a sponsorship from Lemont-based Realty Executives Elite.
After the real estate group’s Christine Wilczek expressed an interest in sponsoring the lemonade stand, Austin teamed up with the company’s graphic designer to create a souvenir cup, Bielski said. The agency then purchased 1,000 cups for use at the lemonade stand.
Realty Executives Elite has ties to the foundation because it has raised money for it in the past, Bielski said.
Not only will this year’s lemonade stands feature the souvenir cups, but Candice’s Austin and Austin brothers—Ethan, 13, and Colin, 8—will serve lemonade from a cart donated to the family by a local parent.
Right after last summer’s lemonade stand, the mother reached out to Bielski, asking if she would like to use a cart for future fundraisers. When Bielski picked it up, the mother told her that her son had benefited from the Pediatric Oncology Treasure Chest Foundation in the past.
“It was almost like passing the torch,” Bielski said.