In May, as we enjoy cool weather before another hot summer, Memorial Day comes around. Along with a three-day weekend, it also reminds us of one’s we’ve lost. Each year Scripps Ranch residents Dominique Rissolo and his wife, Zoë Abrahams, remember their personal loss—a young son who died from cancer.
Lorenzo “Enzo” Rissolo (above) died May 21, 2004, at just 16 months old from neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of pediatric cancer. Diagnosed at nine months, he underwent chemotherapy and radiation at Rady Children’s Hospital. Even with the advanced treatments, Enzo’s body succumbed, claiming another life too soon.
“Nearing the anniversary of his passing, it seemed only natural to take the phone off the hook and draw the shades,” shares Dominique. “We realized that wasn’t right. It wasn’t what our son would’ve wanted us to do.” Dominique’s sisters, Natalia Moorhead, also a long-time Scripps Ranch resident, and Evelyne Condray decided to turn their sadness into something constructive: raise money for childhood cancer research.
They were inspired by a little girl named Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who fought and lost her battle with neuroblastoma. Diagnosed before her first birthday, she was unable to receive treatment at her hospital and the family was forced to relocate, leaving their friends, family, and home behind. At 4 years old she was confused about why her old hospital couldn’t help her. When told they didn’t have the funds, she decided to do something about it.
That year utilizing the adage “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” she hosted a lemonade stand in her front yard and announced her intention to raise “a gabillion dollars” to help cure kids with cancer. She collected more than $2,000 and gave every penny to her hospital in Philadelphia. The next year people anticipated her plans for another stand and asked how they could help. Alex’s Lemonade Stands popped up all over because so many people were taken by her passion, raising millions of dollars. Although Alex died in August 2004, her family and supporters continue her legacy.
The Rissolo family could think of nothing more important than to follow Alex Scott’s lead and decided to host their own stand in Balboa Park to reach the most people, garnering attention from several media outlets. In their first year they raised more than $3,000! “We were blown away,” says Zoë. “People weren’t just buying lemonade; they were joining a fight.” The next year there was no question whether they would host another stand.
In their third year they raised more than $10,000 in two days, which brought them to the status of “Grand Stand”—one of only several in California—from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). The year after, with help from matching corporate funds, they raised almost $30,000 placing them in the “Top 100 Stands” in the U.S. that year and every year since! “We see people dropping $20 in our donation bowl not wanting change or even lemonade,” Dominique adds. “Knowing every penny will help make a difference makes all our hard work worthwhile.”
Hosting a world-class lemonade stand is hard work. You must have shade, tables, signs, a permit, and volunteers. Setting up early and tearing down late is par for the course. You also need tasty lemonade.
To date the Scripps Ranch family has raised more than $80,000, funding research grants across the country. One year walking the park advertising their stand, Natalia happened upon an ALSF recipient who used his grant to fund a research laboratory at UCSD.
The Rissolo’s have become friends with Liz and Jay Scott, Alex’s parents, and are special guests to ALSF events: L.A. loves ALSF Chef’s Event, San Diego’s Lemon Run at Miramar Lake, and Philadelphia’s prestigious Lemon Ball. In January of this year the Scripps Ranch family was honored with ALSF’s highest award, Stand Family of the Year for 2013, a year they were visited by San Diego’s own Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian!
“The only thing that would bring us great joy, other than to see our son again, would be to witness a cure, “says Dominique. “Awareness and funding will translate into new studies and avenues of scientific inquiry. Let’s give these children love, support, and the possibility of a cancer-free tomorrow. Though we only have the memory of our little Enzo beside us, we’re inspired to do our small part.”
Their “small part” includes their tenth Alex’s Lemonade Stand for Enzo in Balboa Park by the lily pond, on Saturday, May 17, all day, joined by Enzo’s brothers Dario and Emilio, students at Jerabek Elementary School, as well as Enzo’s cousins Alex and Amelia from Miramar Ranch Elementary School. Pease feel free to join this Scripps Ranch family in their fight to cure childhood cancers in person or online at [www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/1113777].
Natalia Rissolo Moorhead, Scripps Ranch Resident
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