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City Lights: Being a 'fountain' of positive energy

August 22, 2012|By Michael Miller
  • Madison Hall during a charity lemonade stand at Bold Girlz in Costa Mesa.
Madison Hall during a charity lemonade stand at Bold Girlz… (Cheryl Beck, HB…)

The McKenna Claire Foundation has just taken another bold step toward fighting pediatric brain cancer, and now the words of Rex Hudler are stuck in my head again.

Hudler, the former TV color commentator for the Angels, had a homespun phrase that he would whip out periodically: "Be a fountain, not a drain." It's a simple enough creed to live by: Put out positive energy and don't cave in to cynicism. More often than not, it sounds doable.

There are times in life, though, that make that fountain seem like a Herculean effort. Take the case of Dave and Kristine Wetzel, the Huntington Beach couple who started the above-mentioned foundation after their 7-year-old daughter, McKenna, died of brain cancer.

I've never lost a child. I've known couples who have, and I know the reactions can vary from despondency to anger to a resolve to make a difference. The Wetzels have taken the latter route since McKenna's death a year ago, and if funds and community spirit are any indication, they've set quite a fountain going.

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First, on Aug. 5, which would have been McKenna's ninth birthday, they organized Stand Up and Shine, a day of charity in which friends, family and even strangers were invited to set up lemonade stands to raise funds for causes. Many people who knew the Wetzels diverted their proceeds to the McKenna Claire Foundation — to the tune of $2,400 and counting, as small amounts continue to come in.

Then, this Monday, a spokeswoman for the family announced that the foundation has made a $70,000 donation to Stanford University's pediatric brain cancer research laboratory. Some of that amount, which followed an earlier $30,000 donation, came from fundraisers and a donation from the Chevron Corporation. According to Dave Wetzel, some of it also came from the lemonade stands.

Granted, a few kids running a corner stand don't have the fundraising clout of a major company. But this story isn't really about numbers. It's about community spirit at its best — plenty of small fountains, in other words.

Take Bold Girlz, a Costa Mesa retailer that often backs charitable causes and encourages preteen girls to do the same. Chief Executive Cheryl Beck had heard about the McKenna Claire Foundation's cause, and when Madison Hall, a young customer, told her at a store event that she liked to bake goods for charity, Beck suggested a lemonade stand at Bold Girlz on Aug. 5.

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