Turning lemons into lemonade

It's not unusual to see kids out enjoying a warm spring day with a lemonade stand. Less common is a seeing a group of Ashland Middle School kids doing just that while raising money for a friend in need.

Michael Bruhn, a 12-year-old student at Ashland Middle School, was diagnosed with leukemia in February. Since then he has been receiving chemotherapy at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland. Although he has not yet been released by his doctor to attend public school, Bruhn's friends at school have been thinking about him. Isaiah San Filippo has been touched by his friend's illness and has been brainstorming ways to help Bruhn and his family.

Bruhn was adopted by the Sparrow Club through Premier West Bank, which is sponsoring Ashland Middle School students to do community service in return for help with the financial hardships towards his leukemia treatment. The Sparrow Club is a youth-based charity that assists children in medical crisis.

San Filippo and many others are completing community service hours to report to Premier West Bank, which in turn pays $10 an hour to Bruhn and his family.

"My son, as well as many others, have committed a lot of their extra time after school to clean up parks for community service," said San Filippo's mother, Violeta Shine.

— — Michael Bruhn

Shine's husband, William Shine, is a sous chef at Tabu. Shine has arranged for four boys to come in at 6 a.m. and work to 11 a.m. cleaning the restaurant for community service hours. Sunday, the kids will have worked 40 hours.

Setting up a lemonade stand in a patch of grass in front of Ashland Middle School on Saturday, San Filippo and his friends were extremely productive toward the cause. In addition to each of them earning the $10 per hour that will go to Bruhn, proceeds from the lemonade sales will be donated.

Coming back from the Pear Blossom parade in Medford, carloads of people, as well as parents and players from nearby soccer games, purchased lemonade.

"People have been stopping and giving $20 bills for a glass of lemonade," Shine said.

All week, San Filippo and his brother Dimitri, as well as neighborhood friends Isaac and Lucien Farrow, made signs for the lemonade stand.

Lucien Farrow shouted to cars driving by, "Help Michael! Get lemonade!"

Shine, with one of her children in a carrier on her back, mixed lemonade while her neighbor Katie Farrow filled cups for thirsty contributors.

"People have come by to get lemonade, and once they realize why we're out here, they come back with carloads of people for more," Shine said.

At the end of the day, they had raised $347 &

quite a haul for 2&

65279;1/2 hours of lemonade sales.

"Isaiah's goal was $500. I was really afraid we'd be out here all day and make only $5," Shine said.

"We have been very blessed," said Kimberly Bruhn, Michael's mother. "We don't like to call a lot of attention to ourselves. I don't think there are any coincidences in life."

The family has medical insurance, but trips to Portland for Bruhn's treatments are adding up. Bruhn's illness takes a toll on the whole family. Bruhn's siblings, 10-year-old Max and 14-year-old Molly, have taken over Bruhn's paper route.

"Michael has acute lymphocytic leukemia, which is the most treatable and has the highest survival rate," Kimberly Bruhn said. "He's responding really well to treatments. He's been so strong. Every week for five weeks he's had spinal taps. He is in what's considered remission for now, although we are taking every precaution."

Bruhn has a tutor provided him by the school and is working on a school project regarding the cause of such cancer. The cause is unknown at this time, but can be linked to some environmental risk factors, according to Kimberly Bruhn.

Michael Bruhn is also part of a study group at Doernbecher regarding his form of leukemia. Bruhn's mother said she expects him to be well enough to go back to school in September. Bruhn, eager to go back to school, argued he'll be healthy enough to return in May.

For more information on how to help Bruhn through the Sparrow Club, contact Ashland Middle School at 482-1611.

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