When Max Igoe was five years old, breast cancer claimed the life of his mother's best friend, 37-year-old Beth Rorman. The little boy found himself expressing his pain with the kind of idea only a kindergartner might conceive: a lemonade stand.
"It's just the first thing that popped into my head," said Max, now 14.
Nicki Igoe, Max's mother, said her son aware her friend was sick.
Local news from across Southern California
"He knew that she had something called cancer," she recalled. Rorman battled the illness for some 10 years.
Max told his mom he would set up a lemonade stand near their La Habra home, and raise money for breast cancer research. Maybe even help them discover a cure.
"I explained to him that it wasn't the olden days. That people don't buy lemonade from peoples' driveways like they used to," Nicki said.
But she didn't want to hurt his feelings, either, not while he was mourning "Auntie Beth's" loss. So she helped him mix some juice, prop up a table and hand-print some signs.
This weekend, they will set up Max's stand for the ninth year in a row after years full of hundreds of gallons of pink sweet liquid, numerous raffles, "casino-night" fundraisers and days of labor.
Max has exceeded his wildest dreams: "We've raised over $80,000."
His goal? "A million dollars." And a cure.
Nicki said after every sale, they ask him if he wants to continue, and his answer for the last nine years has been the same: Yes.