11-year-old sister and her 9-year-old brother raise funds to help cancer patients at HonorHealth Research Institute

What started as a home lemonade stand has grown into a multi-pronged fundraising effort pegged for Nov. 25, the Saturday following Thanksgiving

CAVE CREEK, Ariz. — Nov. 1, 2023 — It started 6 years ago this month as a lemonade stand, a simple way for two young children to help cancer patients where their mom works at HonorHealth Research Institute.

This year, 11-year-old Maya and her 9-year-old brother, Jacob, have stepped up their game, expanding their fundraising activities in every direction.

“It’s a very elaborate lemonade stand,” said their mother, Courtney Snyder, R.N., a nurse practitioner and research sub-investigator in the Research Institute’s Cancer Research Division. She specializes in caring for patients with pancreatic cancer, one of the most aggressive of all malignancies.

In addition to different flavors of lemonade, Maya and Jacob will add fruit; offer hot chocolate for those who want something warmer on a late November afternoon; sell individually wrapped baked goods, some made by their Cave Creek friends and neighbors; and raffle toys and other items they hand select for the occasion. For those who want to give online via credit card, they have devised a QR code that will be displayed on a poster.

Each year, they hold their fundraiser on the afternoon of the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which this year falls on Nov. 25. That also is this year’s Small Business Saturday, which helps kick off the annual holiday shopping season by encouraging consumers to shop locally, especially in-person, at small businesses.

The lemonade stand will operate from 1-3 p.m. at Montevista Park in Cave Creek, north side of Dixileta Drive at 54th Street.

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Why it’s important for the children

Asked why their fundraising efforts are important to them, 6th grader Maya said: “We want to help give cancer patients a much better and longer life.” Her brother, 4th grader Jacob said: “We want cancer patients to know we see them and can help them, and they should never give up hope.”

The siblings are so dedicated to philanthropy they changed schools and now attend Cheyanne Traditional School, a public elementary school in the Scottsdale Unified School District that encourages students to volunteer and help others.

And to leverage their fundraising efforts, Maya and Jacob are active in Giving Tuesday, which this year occurs Nov. 28, three days after their fundraiser, so that the money they raise can be matched by participating businesses.

Over the years, the children have raised more than $16,000 for cancer patients, including more than $7,000 last year, an amount boosted by a donation from one of the Institute’s grateful patients.

“This year, we hope to get at least that much, or more,” said their mother, Courtney. “Each year, we’ve outdone the prior year by a significant amount.”

“I’m very proud of how my children’s involvement in this charity will help people one day find a cure for cancer and save many lives,” said their father, Jason.

Separate from the lemonade stand efforts, they will volunteer this year for a grassroots organization called Happily Ever After League (H.E.A.L), which assists Arizona mothers battling cancer and their children.

“They’re getting to the age where having direct human experiences with the people they are helping is important,” Courtney said.