By Carol Mowdy Bond
On May 5, Charlotte Hill had a big idea that reeled in $1,800. A second-grader at Surrey Hills Elementary School, Charlotte wanted to do charity work for kids with cancer. When Charlotte’s mom, Christin Hill, questioned her about the idea, 7-year-old Charlotte Hill said, “I don’t know. It just popped into my head.”
Charlotte Hill cheers on the Cheers All-Star Tasmanian Devils team, in Oklahoma City, with 7-year-old Cora Hughes. And Cora Hughes has a twin brother, Will Hughes, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. The Hughes family lives in Piedmont.
Mother of the twins, Jenny Hughes, a registered nurse at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, said Will “just finished first grade with Epic Charter School. We are hoping to get him back to Piedmont schools when his health improves. Will was diagnosed with Pre B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) November 2020.”
Jenny Hughes and her husband Billy Hughes noticed that their son was lethargic and pale. So they took him to the pediatrician.
“He was immediately rushed to the hospital and moved to the PICU in critical condition. His hemoglobin and platelets were critically low. He endured blood and platelet transfusions until he was stable enough to be transferred to a children’s hospital. There he was officially diagnosed and began what will be a 2 1/2 year treatment plan, if all goes well. He has had several hospital stays, as well as blood and platelet transfusions since he began. Hundreds of doses of chemotherapy under his belt, but his spirits haven’t wavered,” Jenny Hughes said.
One thing led to another, and Charlotte Hill ended up talking to Jenny Hughes, who suggested making bracelets to raise funds for Will’s expenses. Charlotte Hill, and neighborhood friends in Surrey Hills, decided to make bracelets and set up a lemonade stand to sell both lemonade and bracelets on Sunday, May 9.
Neighborhood pals banded together, riding their bikes around the Surrey Hills neighborhood, letting everyone know about their fundraiser.
Christin Hill said, “They called themselves ‘Door Dash’ and took lemonade and bracelet orders throughout the neighborhood, while neighbors also put in orders on our Facebook post. The boys even flagged down a lawn service, and an Amazon delivery man, who all came and donated.”
A contractor built a custom lemonade stand. And even though the stand was only in business on May 9, Christin Hill said, “Our hope is to host lemonade stands throughout the summer in our neighborhood, as well as other neighborhoods or businesses in our area. We created a Facebook page where we hope to post updates throughout the summer of when we will be selling lemonade. So far, they have raised $1,800. We have only hosted the one lemonade stand so far, however we have continued to receive donations from Charlotte’s friends, the staff at Surrey Hills Elementary School, family members, and through a GoFundMe account.” And that’s not all! Marree and Steve Lunsford, Surrey Hills residents and owners of McGranahan Barn and OKC Entertainment, reached out to Christin Hill after the lemonade stand closed on May 9. Steve Lunsford said to Christin Hill, “What is Charlotte’s fundraising goal?” Christin Hill said her daughter hoped to raise $1,000 over the summer for Will Hughes’ family. Steve Lunsford replied, “Okay, put me down for $1,000!” That brought the May 9 lemonade stand total to $1,480. So, Charlotte Hill and her pals decided to up their goal to $5,000 for the summer.
With momentum growing, another business stepped up to the plate. The gourmet cotton candy food truck Gimme Sugar will be donating cotton candy to Charlotte Hill’s next lemonade stand, and naming a special flavor ‘Will’s Watermelon,’ to be sold at the next lemonade stand event.
Jenny Hughes said, “The lemonade stand has instilled a sense of hope for everyone involved. Childhood cancer is a situation no one wants to be in. No one wants to see a child suffer from this illness. You add on the stress and anxiety of a sick child, then pile on medical bills. Yes, it all does add up very quickly. What Charlotte Hill has done with the lemonade stand, you have a young child who wants to help another child and his family anyway she can. It’s something you don’t always see from kids so young. When we told Will about it, he was so excited.
We told him that we were going to visit Charlotte Hill while she was at her stand. Since he has been diagnosed, his trips outside the house are closely monitored in accordance to his health. We have had to be so careful with his exposure to anything, with his immune system being decimated. So, he was excited for the trip out of the house, to see some friends, and to get some lemonade! Then he began to realize the money being raised will help him. He quickly realized that this will help ease a bit of the stress on mom and dad too. The money being raised will help tremendously. We have insurance. But maximum out-of-pocket expenses, prescriptions, gas to and from the clinic and multiple hospital visits on a weekly basis, co-pays, and multiple emergency room visits all add up.”
Throughout his personal battle with leukemia, seven-year-old Will Hughes has reached out to others and made a positive impact. Jenny Hughes said, “Will has been so inspirational to so many people across the country and across the world. We have had so many people come to us and tell us that thinking about how Will has tackled this has changed their perspective on everything. When they want to help out they say, ‘He makes it easy for us to want to help.’ He has earned the nickname ‘Warrior Will.’ That’s how he approaches his situation. He has a fearlessness about him that is admirable. People want to emulate it. When you see someone like that, it’s easy to want to reach out and help them in their fight. We have had help in this situation, no doubt. You have to have help in a fight this big. He has noticed the help even at his age, and he already has big plans to help others when he is finished with his fight.”
To help with the Hughes’ expenses, go to the GoFundMe account
https://gofund.me/1ca1d935. To find information about when Charlotte Hill’s lemonade stand is open, visit the Surrey Hills Neighbors Facebook pages.