Boy With Cancer Raises Nearly $7,000 for Other Sick Kids Through Hot Chocolate Stand
"Despite everything he has been through, he is still full of joy and love," his mother said.
No one would blame Matthew McDonnell for only thinking of himself right now.
The 6-year-old from South Abington Township, Pennsylvania has been battling a pediatric kidney tumor for nearly half his life, and has undergone multiple surgeries and rounds of chemo and radiation.
But "despite everything he has been through, he is still full of joy and love," his mother, Linda, told InsideEdition.com.
In his latest act of kindness, Matthew set up a hot chocolate stand that raised a staggering $6,838 for other kids with cancer.
He came up with the idea after learning about Alex's Lemonade Stand, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research. It was set up by Alexandra Scott, a Connecticut girl who passed away from neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, in 2004, when she was just 8.
"He started thinking of his own twist on things," his mom said via email. "On our way home from the store one late autumn day, he said, 'Mommy, I want to have a hot cocoa stand to raise money for kids who have cancer.' One of Matthew’s favorite beverages is hot cocoa and since it was getting cold out, he thought it would be great.
"I immediately loved his idea and started thinking about how we could make it happen."
After thinking about the logistics, Linda and her husband Patrick approached their township about holding the event in a public location. The township agreed to let them use its covered pavilion, which has a working fireplace, picnic tables and plenty of parking.
December 10 was the only Saturday that worked around Matthew's treatment, so the family got to work to make it happen within a week. His dad bought wood and worked every night to build his son the stand.
When the day arrived, Matthew sold hot cocoa and treats, including marshmallows, cookies and brownies, which had been donated by friends and local businesses.
"Due to the temperature of the hot water, Matthew did not make the hot cocoa but helped us stir it at home," his mom said. "Once he got to the park, though, he was in charge! He made sure everyone had a napkin and gave his family orders so that his customers were well-cared for!"
Photos show lines of people waiting for snacks. Matthew's dad had to return home twice to get more hot cocoa.
"Seeing that many people come out to support Matthew and his cause was a tangible reminder of God’s love in this world" Linda said. "It was overwhelming to say the least."
Matthew was diagnosed with cancer in January 2014.
"It has been a long, difficult road for him," his mom said, adding that being away from his family, friends and church has been the hardest for him. "He is such an outgoing child and he absolutely loves being around other children. He makes friends wherever he goes within minutes."
Matthew continues to suffer abdominal pain, but despite his own suffering, he's only ever thought of others.
"I've been on the planet for 40 more years than my son and there are days that I am still wondering what my purpose or calling is in this life," his mother said. "He is 6 years old and knows exactly what his purpose is. He is, by far, my greatest inspiration."
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