by Ari & Sam Schlanger and Maddie & Sydney Berna with their moms Alison & Allison (family co-owners of apple seeds)
Every year in May, we encourage our family, friends and the apple seeds community to support us in our efforts to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. It’s the cause closest to our hearts since Gretchen and Larry (Witt) are our friends, but mostly because their son Liam, who would have been 10 years old this past May, was our children’s friend. Not only did they all go to school together, but Liam and his sister Ella also spent much of their free time at apple seeds, our NYC indoor play space. We called Liam “the mayor of apple seeds.” Everyone knew him. Everyone loved him. Liam would ride his orange scooter down the hall, giving hugs to all his teachers, peppering them with questions about science class and rolling around with Ella in the playground. He had an infectious energy, personality and smile that drew people to him everywhere he went. We all miss him in a way that’s hard to explain, and he comes up constantly in our thoughts, conversations and lives.
In May, we hosted our annual bake sale at apple seeds. But, this year, we decided to add another element to our fundraising/awareness raising effort. We encouraged our four older kids — Ari, Maddie, Sam and Sydney — to run a 5k race with us to raise more money. They hesitated a whole 1.7 seconds before saying yes, and we were off!
With an email, a photo and a plea to friends for help, they raised over $10,000 in just two days! Over Memorial Day weekend we all ran the 5k race together. During the three-plus miles, the kids barely stopped running, with mentions and reminders of Liam along the way. It was as if Liam kept us all going. It was as if those four young kids knew the difference they could make for children just like Liam, children who have a chance at life. It was as if they knew that running and talking about him and helping his parent’s organization would keep his memory alive.
As they crossed the finish line, they asked, “How much money are we up to now?!” Now, $11,548 dollars later, they feel proud of their contribution to fight childhood cancer, and they are already planning ways they can continue to make a difference.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was kind enough to ask our children to present their check for their donation.
They know that if Liam were still with us he would have been running that 5k with our group. They’ve seen first-hand the fragility of life and the enemy that is cancer, and they are determined to make a difference.