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Port Neches kids’ lemonade stand helps ‘Grandma’ through cancer

Sometimes a small deed can make a big difference. Loynee Guidry, who was diagnosed with lung cancer recently, knows this very well. Ever since six kids decided to trade their afternoon playtime to help raise money for the soon-to-be 79 year old, the Port Neches resident has decided to look her cancer square in the eye and fight back with all she’s got.

“I have a low 20 to 30 percent chance that the chemo (chemotherapy) is going to hold back the cancer from spreading any further, but I have to do it for my kids,” she said.

When Savannah Dartez, 12, Logan Hammonds, 11, Taylor Melancon, 10, Tori Melancon, 8, Brylie Dartez, 6 and Kaelyn Dartez, 4, learned that their neighborhood “grandma” was ill, they were determined to help. The group put their heads together and came up with a plan.

“We were going to do a lemonade stand and we figured we should raise money for her,” Taylor said after yelling at drivers to stop and buy tropical punch.

It all started when Savannah stopped by Guidry’s  house near Sasser Lane during the summer. One visit turned to many others over time. Guidry made such an impression on Savannah and her sister, Kaeylin, that they decided to call her Grandma.

Guidry told Savannah during one of her usual visits that she was due for a doctor’s appointment. Savannah asked why, and she told the curious Port Neches Middle School student that her cancer was spreading.

“I had lymph nodes,” Guidry said. “I had to go to chemo, and I was about to give up and throw my hands up and say forget it, but that’s when I got a call from them.”

Savannah, along with the other five kids stopped by the house with a surprise that she said turned her world upside-down.

“They grabbed me by the legs and they hugged me,” Guidry said. “And they said, ‘we have a surprise’. She (Savannah) showed me the sign behind her back and you should have seen their little faces. That’s when they gave me $14.”

For the past few weeks, the children, all neighbors, have been standing on the corner of the Sasser and Hampton Lane, in front of a little red wagon full of drinks, holding a sign that reads, “lemonade for our grandma…she has lung cancer” to raise money so Guidry can afford gas to go from Port Neches to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston on occasions.

“Everyone who has heard about this is amazed,” Guidry said. “It was such a generous thing to do, and they did it on their own.”

The children have even touched others in the neighborhood and encouraged them to do their part.

“One guy down the street found their sign to be a little small, so he donated a big sign so everyone could see it,” Guidry said.

Guidry told her life-long friend, Patricia Gaspard about the children’s lemonade stand, and she was moved by their effort.

“When I heard the story, I was so overwhelmed that someone they didn’t even know that long would do this,” Gaspard said. “It just floored me. And I want to tell their parents what a wonderful job they are doing. And it was a group effort.”

One of the parents seems to already know.

David Henry, Savannah and Kaelyn stepfather, said he couldn’t be more proud.

“I’m surprised as heck,” Henry said. “They were out picking weeds, and now they’re raising money for her. It’s amazing.”

Each day, as they learn how to make money transactions and as they help their neighbors beat the heat with refreshing drinks, they’re also learning the true essence of teamwork.

“We take turns pouring, taking money and holding the sign,” Tori said. “No on is a leader.”

So far their teamwork has carried them way over the initial $14 they first handed their grandmother. As of Tuesday, the group raised about $84.

rbrown@panews.com