While some kids dream of changing the world, one young South Brunswick child has recognized that bringing about meaningful change for others can be accomplished one small good deed at a time.
Jillian Knehr, 8, a student at Brunswick Acres Elementary School, was greatly impacted about a year ago when she heard the story of "Alex's Lemonade Stand," a charity that funds research and makes new treatments available to children with cancer. The charity was founded in honor of cancer victim Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who at the age of 4-years-old set up a lemonade stand to give money to doctors searching for a cure for the disease.
"When my mom read me that story I said I really want to (have a lemonade stand) too," Jillian said.
Jillian set a goal of raising $250 for the cancer charity, but outdid her goal by raising $275 selling lemonade and snacks last October. Not content to just raise funds for young cancer victims, Jillian decided to put her money, or hair to be more exact, where her mouth is. She recently had 10 inches of her hair chopped off to be made into wigs for cancer patients through the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.
"I thought it was awesome back in the fall when she wanted to do the lemonade stand," said Jillian's mother Jody. "I'm so proud of her. She saw the story of 'Alex's Lemonade Stand' and said I want to help. It took her a good few years to grow her hair so it was tough for her."
Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene and the American Cancer Society, which has donated 18,000 free real-hair wigs to the ACS wig banks to be distributed to cancer patients across the country.
While Jillian was a bit apprehensive about getting her long locks cut, she ultimately realized the payoff for those in need would be far greater than her nerves about a shorter haircut.
"I was a little nervous and wondered what my hair would look like, but yeah I liked my hair cut," she said.
Jillian also plans on running more lemonade stands in the spring to continue raising funds for cancer patients. She said her efforts were simply about helping others facing their darkest hour.
"There are people less fortunate than me with kids who have cancer and they need stuff but can't afford it. So I want to donate to them so they can get help," she said. "It makes me feel really happy that I'm doing it and I can finally help someone else. Even though I don't know them I can still help them."