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Calif. Paramedic's Son Plans Thanksgiving Charity Lemonade Stand

VENTURA, Calif. -- For the sixth year, Alexander Riach will give thanks to Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House on Thanksgiving Day by setting up his lemonade stand in Camarillo.

When he was 2½, Alexander was rushed to the hospital when he suddenly could not move his body properly. The problem began with his feet, then his legs. By the time his father, Mike, got home from work, it had reached his arms and hands.

During Alexander's first few days at the hospital, his father watched him having to be revived. "As they were moving him into ICU, and getting his bed ready, my wife went to get something to eat and Alexander coded," Riach said. "I'm a paramedic, and I knew what was going on. They hit the red button, and instantly there were 20 people in the room working on my son, and they brought him back to life."

Alexander was diagnosed with Guillian-Barré syndrome, an attack on the body's nerves by the immune system. After three months in the hospital, he emerged symptom-free.

"There is not enough research to say what the prognosis is for this disease," Riach said. "But as far as we can tell, he has had a full recovery."

Alexander, 12, said: "I'm all fixed now. I don't remember a lot about it, but I do remember how nice the people were there."

When Alexander was 6, his mother read hima story about Alexandra Scott who, before dying of cancer at age 8, started Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation to raise money to fight childhood cancer.

"I thought it would be really awesome to help Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House because of how thankful I am for what they did for me," Alexander said. "My mom read the story around Thanksgiving, which was the perfect coincidence."

He looks forward to doing it every year.

"I love it because it makes me happy to think that I'm helping," he said. "People have always been so generous."

The family has raised a little more than $20,000. The proceeds are split between Children's Hospital and Ronald Mc-Donald House, where his parents could stay while he was ill.

"You feel like you cannot leave your child's bedside 24/7," Riach said. "I cannot express how much it meant to have this resource for us. We were able to be with Alexander the whole time."

Alexander said, "When we bring the money to Children's Hospital, it's always fun for me to visit the kids and walk them around with their wheelchairs," The lemonade stand will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Upland Road, between Flynn and Lewis roads. Donations can be sent to Alexander Riach c/o CHLA or Ronald Mc-Donald House, 5021 Verdugo Way, Suite 105-152, Camarillo, CA 93012.

There also is a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AlexandersLemonade.



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