SMITHFIELD – In March 2019, life was normal for Mikaila Stafford and her family while living in Florida. One day she got sick and started vomiting. Her parents took her to their pediatrician and was told she either had a bad cold or virus. Two days later, Mikaila, affectionately known as “Roo”, started having balance issues.
Returning to the pediatrician, doctors became very concerned and told the family to go to the emergency room. At the emergency room, doctors determined she needed to be airlifted to a hospital Orlando, Florida.
Following two weeks of tests, she was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of brain cancer affecting her central nervous system. Two months later, in May 2019, Mikaila lost her battle with cancer. She was only three. Mikaila was laid to rest in Selma. Her family now resides in Johnston County.
Ever year in Mikaila’s memory, her family holds a lemonade stand fundraiser. This year’s event will take place Sunday, September 26th from 3:00pm – 5:00pm at Smithfield Community Park.
Mikaila’s mother, Amanda Stafford, said the annual event helps raise funds for childhood cancer research, which only receives about four percent of all cancer research funding. It’s also a way to honor Makaila every year.
“For us it is therapeutic. It helps us keep moving forward as a family. It helps keep her memory alive and raise funds for childhood cancer,” Amanda said.
The lemonade stand fundraiser is part of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) which funds impactful cancer research, raises awareness and supports families, all while working towards a cure for childhood cancer.
On Sunday, family, friends and the public will walk around Smithfield Community Park holding signs to raise awareness. They’ll also serve lemonade.
Amanda said the annual event is very special and dear to the hearts of her family. “Any donations would help.”
The goal this year is $3,000. You can donate in person this Sunday at Smithfield Community Park or online. All donations benefit ALSF.