The Lemonade Gang began approximately nine years ago. A friend and I wanted to do something to help our dear friend, Brian Kelley, in his heroic fight against adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). ALD is a rare (affecting 1: 75,000 boys) disease that affects the fatty coating on our nerves, leaving patients with impaired or no vision, impaired or no speech, impaired or no motor function, seizures, and swallowing difficulties. At the young age of six my friend and I often felt helpless, however one manner in which we discovered we could help Brian was to raise funds for the Myelin Project, the research foundation for ALD.
Originally, Ryan and I gathered a group of friends and raised money by selling lemonade. Within a short time, we learned that we could tap into our common passion for musical theater and perform shows as a means of fundraising. While precious and memorable, our early performances were suitable for family members only and held in the homes and yards of various members. The first time that the group opened ticket sales to the public was with its production of Grease at the Owenego, a local beach club. While Grease was a resounding success, still the gang wanted to do more.
By this time, a new friend had entered our lives, Hanna Bloomquist, Ryan’s sister. In addition to continuing our commitment to the Myelin Project, the gang now wanted to do something to help children, like Hanna, fighting childhood cancer. We decided that we did not want to split funds between the two causes, but to instead double our efforts. As such, we created a holiday concert that was held at the local library. With funds raised, we were able to provide Christmas for families of Hanna’s pediatric oncologist - families that would otherwise not have been able to afford such cheer in the face of insurmountable medical bills. The gang has evolved then. Some members are here for a show or two, but the core group has stayed in tact. While our passion has grown, so too has our commitment to the Myelin Project and organizations dealing with childhood cancer. We plan on continuing the tradition of a summer show to benefit the Myelin Project and a holiday concert to benefit an organization such as the American Cancer Society’s Camp Rising Sun, a completely free summer camp for Pediatric Cancer patients to go to be kids. To date, the Gang has raised over $30,000 for charity and we are not planning on stopping any time soon. We have done four summer shows, which year after year sell out with audiences maxing at 500 people and three Christmas Concerts. Each year, we have had to move our venue to a larger one to accommodate everyone. As the Gang grows so did its popularity, and the Lemonade Gang became popular entertainment at local events. In between a performance, don't be surprised to find us selling lemonade!