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N.L. girl battling cancer inspires Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand, raises thousands for other kids

NL girl with cancer operates lemonade stand, fundraising for others
WATCH ABOVE: NL girl with cancer operates massive lemonade stand, raises money for other patients

In many ways, Nevaeh Denine is a normal little girl: she likes being with her dog, Skipper, and drawing pictures in her bedroom.

“Feeling good, actually,” Nevaeh told Global News, during a visit last month to the house she shares with her mother, in the suburban community of Goulds, near St. John’s, NL.

“I’ve been feeling better than I have been feeling over the week.”

READ: Pediatric cancer research gets financial boost for Montreal-based project

Her mother, Holly, says Nevaeh has lived much of her life under a dark shadow.

“She’s fighting cancer four years now. And she’s almost nine,” she said.

Nevaeh has neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that develops in nerve tissue.

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After enduring three rounds of intense medical treatment, she has learned language no child should ever need to know.

“I just did radiation, and then I went back-to-back chemo and radiation, and so, it got me kind of screwed up, and on my butt.” Nevaeh said.

She ends the sentence with a laugh, an expression that provides insight into her character, and her ability to find something to smile about.

Nevaeh took the time to draw a little picture for reporter Ross Lord and camera operator Grey Butler.
Nevaeh took the time to draw a little picture for reporter Ross Lord and camera operator Grey Butler. Ross Lord/ Global News

Facing an uncertain future, Nevaeh has been told by doctors to live life to the fullest but those closest to her say she has taught them how to live.

“You forgive a lot easier, and you look at life in a different perspective,” said her mother.

“And it just makes you a more humble and a better person. And, I owe that to her.”

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Even more remarkable is how she takes action, unselfishly.

“I wanted to help other boys and girls like me with pediatric cancer go through treatment,” Nevaeh said.

Combined with her own whimsical wish for the world’s largest lemonade stand, the idea gave rise to something special for the summer. They call it Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand. The annual event features live music, dancing, and bouncy castles.

Stephanie O’Brien, one of a growing number of volunteers who help co-ordinate the event, says they were shocked at the reaction.

“We thought a couple hundred people would show up. The next thing we knew, it’s like 6,000 people and the lineup is going down the road,” she said.

Over the past four years, many volunteers have stepped up to help with Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand.
Over the past four years, many volunteers have stepped up to help with Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand. Ross Lord/ Global News

Over four years, Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand has raised more than $160,000 for 26 families living with pediatric cancer in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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“It really blows my mind how many people asked if they can help out and have some part in the lemonade stand,” said Nevaeh.

There are acts of kindness and compassion, large and small: from someone anonymously decorating her radiation mask, to a man leaving his Volkswagen Beetle to Nevaeh, after losing his battle with cancer.

WATCH: Finding a cure to childhood cancer

Finding a cure to childhood cancer
Finding a cure to childhood cancer

Her inspirational attitude requires little explanation.

“Just the way I feel when I wake up, I guess,” she said with a smile.

A girl described as eight going on 30 even has advice for others facing a similar struggle.

“Stay strong. And remember, when there’s something bad, there’s always a good side of it,” she said.

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Her annual event is scheduled for July 28, the day after her ninth birthday.