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Dunedin student reaches across the bay to connect with Lithia child battling cancer

LITHIA — Harrison Godwin is a 12-year-old on a mission.

For the past five years, he has been managing a lemonade and cupcake stand to raise funds.

Instead of buying the latest high-tech gadget, the Dunedin Highland Middle School student is sending his money to a cancer foundation that will disburse the money to other children — most of whom he's never met.

"I thought that for my Service Learning Project it would be a good idea to help raise money for childhood cancer, so I do it every year," Harrison said. "I've been doing it since I was 7 and it's gotten a lot better since then."

Guided by his mother, Kristen Mintzer, Harrison joined forces with Alex's Lemonade Stand — a foundation for research and families affected by childhood cancer.

"Someone I worked with lost their child and they said in lieu of sending flowers to the funeral, donate to this organization that had helped them," Mintzer said. "So not only do they do research for childhood cancer, but they also give families gas money or money to stay in hotels near the hospitals that they're receiving treatment, and I thought that was really cool."

Harrison's fundraiser, which has now turned into a family affair, recently teamed up with Art Monkey in Lithia in honor of the Abadi family, whose 5-year-old son Alex, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 Wilms cancer.

Within a month of his first symptoms, Alex underwent four rounds of chemotherapy at Tampa General Hospital.

"He hasn't been very sick from the chemo yet," said Jennifer Abadi, Alex's mother. "But we don't know how long that will last, so everyday he feels okay is a good day."

Jennifer Abadi says she's grateful for the outpouring of support from the FishHawk community, which has raised more than $37,000 for Alex and his family. His father, Jamal Abadi, is a coach for the FishHawk Soccer Club and Alex's Go Fund Me page is managed by the club.

Harrison raised $1,101 during his time at Art Monkey, and was able to meet Alex briefly to wish him well.

"All proceeds went to Alex's Lemonade Stand, but our stand was in honor of him," Mintzer said. "I made a personal donation to his Go Fund Me page as he is not apart of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation."

Harrison is well aware of the good he is doing, and doesn't plan to stop any time soon.

"I feel like I'm doing good with the amount of money I'm raising, and I'm hoping that it goes to a cure for kids that need it," Harrison said. "I hope I can do it again next year, and maybe even longer."

Contact Kelsey Sunderland at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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