SAUK RAPIDS, Minn. — It's a sad truth, but so many people can say someone they know has been affected by cancer. A father. A sister. A friend. It can take a lot of light to break through the dark moments the disease carries.
Luckily, the fight against cancer has a bright and enthusiastic ally shining in Sauk Rapids: 7-year-old Kylie Myers-Schleif.
For the past two years, Myers-Schleif has been fundraising for cancer research by running Kylie's Kickin' Cancer Lemonade Stand — a long-term project that began with a simple question.
"They have the Walk for Life at her school," said Ruthie Myers-Schleif, Kylie's mother. "I asked her, 'Would you want to have a lemonade stand?'"
Ruthie said from there Kylie's ideas and drive to do her part took flight.
The St. Cloud Times reports that Kylie has hosted her lemonade stand all over the area, like at dance competitions, as well as in her driveway. During last weekend's warm spring afternoon, she poured people lemonade and raised money with other snacks and activities, like painting kindness rocks, making hope bracelets and playing Plinko.
Her philosophy and what she asks others is simple: "Do you want to keep your change or do you want to find a cure for cancer?"
It's hard to argue with her logic. Her efforts have raised over $2,000 for cancer research, her mother said.
"She has a fire in her soul and is determined," said Ruthie.
Kylie's fire didn't spark from nowhere. She is related to someone well-known in the community for helping others: April Myers. Or, as Kylie fondly called her, Aunt April.
Myers was deeply involved in volunteering for a number of groups in Sauk Rapids. She was one who found it hard to sit still with idle hands she felt could be better used for helping others. Myers was honored as the Sauk Rapids Citizen of the Year in 2016. She also had a longtime battle with brain cancer which she passed away from on April 12.
Ruthie, April's sister-in-law, said April and Kylie had a special connection. She said Kylie started the stand to find a cure for cancer for her aunt and all others fighting the disease.
"Last year it was in honor of April," Ruthie said. "This year it is in memory."
Despite losing her aunt, Kylie said she is still determined to raise money to help fight cancer for Aunt April.
"We have a rule in our house that we can't say 'hate' unless it's with cancer," Ruthie said. "We also say 'No one fights alone.'"
This message was displayed around Kylie's Lemonade Stand with pictures of her and Myers together, alongside some of Myers' favorite snacks: chocolate chip cookies and doughnut holes. Ruthie said most who come by are friends, family and neighbors. This time, there were people who came who didn't know Kylie, but did know April and came to show support.
"I think it's really inspiring, and humbling to be a part of it," said Jes Messerich. Messerich has been a family friend since her daughter and Kylie became friends in kindergarten. "As a parent, as a community member, I'm really in awe of what they do."
Though the loss of April is difficult, Kylie and her family are still fundraising to find a cure and will donate the money to the district's Walk for Life.
An AP Member Exchange shared by the St. Cloud Times.