Not often do you meet someone who is a true inspiration, but I did today. I was in a hurry this afternoon on the way to pay some bills, and truth be told, cursing my empty bank account and the cost of cellular service. As I rounded the corner at the end of my street, I caught sight of a lemonade stand. I really can not pass up a chance for a big glass of lemonade for only 50¢, so I stopped the car to indulge myself. I thought I was buying a glass of lemonade but what I received was far more valuable.
I struck up a little conversation with this would be entrepreneur as he was filling my order of watermelon lemonade. He told me his name was Jack. I asked innocently what he was earning money for. I assumed it was some electronic gadget or video gizmo. You could of knocked me over with a feather when he informed me that he was raising money to donate to cancer research.
I was impressed with this young man to say the least. He told me that he had been selling lemonade and donating the profits since he was in 2nd grade. “I want to help people,” he told me. “Last year I donated over $70,” he explains to me with a look of pride and resilience. I realized that this is a lot of sold lemonade considering the 50¢ price tag. His mom, who was supervising her son, chimed in and explained to me that after his diagnoses, he wanted to give back. I was struck.
“Jack has lupus,” she unapologetically answered.
Lupus is an insidious disease. It is described by the Mayo Clinic as a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. The signs and symptoms of lupus that you experience will depend on which body systems are affected by the disease. The most common signs and symptoms include fatigue, fever, joint pain, stiffness and swelling of joints, rash on the face or other body parts, skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure, shortness of breath, chest pain, dry eyes, headaches, confusion and memory loss. Lupus can lead to many very serious health problems that can effect your kidneys, brain, lungs, blood circulation and your heart.
I learned some other things about Jack. He is going into 6th grade at Arbor Park Middle School and is excited but a little nervous. His birthday was on July 2nd and he turned 11. He loves to play board games with his brother Adam and is proud of his mom, who is a single mom and cares for and tutors children. His favorite color is green, he loves watermelon and the Cubs, and his favorite place is his cozy and safe bedroom. He tells me that his mom is amazing and describes her as loving, affectionate, and funny. I realize this is all things that money can’t buy.
Jack started showing signs of Lupus when he was in 2nd grade. After many doctor visits, medical tests and sleepless nights, Jack was diagnosed and his life was never the same. For years Jack has dealt with chronic pain, symptoms of lupus on a daily basis and the side effects of medication. His mom keeps him positive though and always reminds him that happiness comes from inside. He strives to be healthy and kind.
“He is in a good place right now,” his mother told me. “His medication is helping his pain, he is feeling strong and we are feeling grateful.” Jack nods in agreement to his mother’s statement and I feel an energy from him; a calm, reassuring and happy energy. This is a child, burdened with a disease, who feels grateful. This is a kid who got lemons, and literally made lemonade. This Jack Crubaugh, has it all figured out. He smiles a big toothy grin and his peaceful disposition is contagious. I smile back because he makes me remember what is important in life. For just 50¢, I received a glass of lemonade and a life lesson from an 11 year old boy who has wisdom way beyond his years. It was definitely a good use of my money.
I finish my lemonade and before I leave, I ask him to describe himself. He describes himself with great words; brave, happy, grateful, fast and affectionate. I would add to that list, my hero.