Tisha Holland put her heart into a school project this spring.
So much so that it carried into her summer break.
Holland, 9, hosted a lemonade stand Saturday at Medicap Pharmacy in Guyton to raise money toward finding a cure for childhood cancer.
The idea began when her third-grade class at Guyton Elementary was assigned to research and report about a hero. Holland’s teacher, Vanessa McGuire, told her about Alex Scott, a child who hosted fundraising lemonade stands. Scott eventually succumbed to cancer at just 8 years old.
“I was like, ‘This has got to be the person that I’m doing,’” Holland recalled.
She devoted several hours to researching and writing about Scott, who was diagnosed with cancer shortly before her first birthday. The Connecticut girl held her first front-yard lemonade stand at age 4, and the foundation in her name grew into a national fundraising movement to fight childhood cancer.
“She touched my heart whenever she helped other kids with cancer when she was battling her own cancer too,” Holland said.
But the school project was just the beginning.
Scott’s story inspired Holland to host a lemonade stand of her own. Joined by her mother Thresa and younger sister Trista, she handed out lemonade — along with lemon cookies and lemon-themed bracelets she made out of rubber bands — in exchange for a donation of any amount to the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
“It’s unbelievable how she took the project and ran with it like this,” said McGuire, who stopped by the lemonade stand to support her former student.
“She had the heart to do it all on her own. It was all her,” McGuire continued. “She’s a great kid, amazing kid.”
The Hollands manned the stand on Medicap’s front lawn for three hours and collected $456 in donations, according to Thresa. A Web site promoting Tisha’s fundraiser brought in another $160 in online contributions, boosting the total to $616.
“It feels so good to think, this is my daughter that I’ve brought into the world and I’ve raised and she has such a huge heart to want to help others,” Thresa said.
The Hollands are friends with Medicap owner Amy Jacobs, and they live in the subdivision directly behind the pharmacy. Jacobs didn’t hesitate when Thresa asked if Tisha could have the lemonade stand at Medicap.
“Amy was so excited,” Thresa said. “She said, ‘Absolutely, we’re going to make her dream come true. She will have that stand.’”
Jacobs is herself a cancer survivor, after being diagnosed 11 years ago with thyroid cancer. She underwent surgery and radiation — “no chemo, thank God,” she said — and has received cancer-free results at her regular check-ups since.
“I just can’t imagine having a child with cancer,” Jacobs said. “You never know — it affects every age. Then once you have the C-word, you always fear it comes back.”
The lemonade stand wasn’t Tisha’s first effort to help people with cancer, though. When she was just 5 years old, her mom said, Tisha had her ponytail cut off and donated it to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to children suffering from medical hair loss.
“At that time, she didn’t really understand cancer,” her mom explained, “but we told her that there were lots of people in the world that lost their hair because they were sick, and wigs are made so that they can have hair.”
Tisha made a similar donation shortly before the end of this past school year. She gave eight inches of her hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a partnership with the American Cancer Society to make real-hair wigs for women.
“Now they’re going to connect five more ponytails to make a wig,” Tisha said.
In her typical fashion, Tisha views Saturday’s lemonade stand as just the start. She hopes to host several more of the fundraisers.
“Tisha asked me (Saturday) night before bed if she could do another stand (Sunday) to add to her total,” Thresa said. “This girl is never satisfied and always wants to do more.”
The Hollands are welcome to have the lemonade stands at Medicap anytime, Jacobs said.
“Yes, they can. It’s for a great cause,” she said. “It is very dear to my heart.”
The family stayed busy Saturday as a steady stream of walk-up and drive-through donors visited the lemonade stand. The day also brought a mixture of south Georgia summer heat and light rain.
However, as the fundraiser moved into its final hour, Tisha wasn’t ready to stop.
“I want to stay here as long as I possibly can,” she said.