An act of love and kindness, with lemonade on the side

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By Kenny Mitchell
Publisher

It is often said that it is not tragedy that makes us who we are, but how we respond to that tragedy. This past weekend, a local family responded to their own personal tragedy with an act of love and kindness that truly portrayed that love conquers all and that a family can overcome anything if they are united in spirit.
Paul Norton, his three children, and the rest of their family recently suffered the worst kind of loss when his wife, Holly, passed away after a seven year battle with colon cancer.
In the midst of Holly’s battle, the family made several trips to MD Anderson, and while there, came to know about Kim’s Place.
Kim’s Place is a lounge for teens and young adults at MD Anderson that is named in honor of Kim Perrot, a guard  for the four-time WNBA champion Houston Comets. Perrot died of lung cancer in 1999 at the age of 32.
It is a place to get away, relax, play games, watch a movie and just escape from the harsh reality of the cancer center for a little while.
The Nortons have three children. Emily is now 16, Julia is 12 and Caleb is 8. They went to Kim’s place a few times over the years while their mother was a patient.

Paul says, “About five years ago the girls did a lemonade stand fundraiser for Kim’s Place. They raised about $600. We bought gifts and took them to Kim’s Place in November of that year. At the time Kim’s Place gave Christmas presents to kids who were patients at MDA on Christmas morning.”

Around Spring Break time this year, the three decided they wanted to help Kim’s Place again, and the idea for the garage sale, with the lemonade stand was born.

The effort became a family affair with Holly’s mom, Linda Smith, becoming a huge part in pulling it off. Linda’s sister Rayna Bean helped a lot as well. 
 Norton’s parents, Andy and Rene Norton, along with his twin brother, Scott Norton, his wife Melody and kids, Ray and Alex, also joined the team effort, and together the sale became a huge success.
Paul states, “Several families donated goods to the sale when they found out what the kids wanted to do. It has truly been a blessing to see the outpouring of love from this community.” 

In a truly extraordinary twist, Emily and Julia also decided for their birthdays in June to accept gifts and donations to be donated to Kim’s Place in lieu of receiving gifts for themselves. 

The lemonade stand was also a huge part of the weekend with individuals showing up to pay as much as $100 for a cup of the fresh lemonade and many others doing far more than the advertised 50 cents a cup. If guests were lucky, as I was, they also were entertained by Julia doing her version of Anna Kendrick’s Cups, from the movie Pitch Perfect. Julia’s rendition would have made Kendrick proud.

The garage sale itself was also different, with nothing priced and instead offered for a donation of any amount.
When the dust settled, Norton estimates around $3,500 was raised, with some donations still to come in.

“It was a true outpouring of love and support…a true win-win” Paul said. 

To add the cherry on top, when the sale was done on Saturday, Paul, Caleb and Scott loaded up clothes, toys and some furniture and donated them to Randy Sam’s Shelter to help them.

It was all an act of kindness. An act not asked for by Kim’s Place, not your ordinary garage sale, and not your every day family gathering. But rather, a gift of love, in remembrance of love.

When love and memories are what you have, love is all you need.

 

In the picture, the Norton family spent many days at Kim’s Place while Holly battled Stage 4 colon cancer. Now the family is devoted to giving back to the place that helped them through their hardest days. Pictured are, left to right, Emily, Caleb, Paul, Julia and Holly .

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