NBA's Balkman turns lemons into lemonade
New York Knicks forward Renaldo Balkman helped turn lemons into lemonade Wednesday as part of a seventh-grader's efforts to help those afflicted with cancer.
Balkman took orders behind the table at Anthony's Lemonade Stand, 13-year-old Anthony Frederick's fundraiser for cancer research. The teenager's mother, Dru Frederick, was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. His father, Tony, is currently undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia.
Balkman, a former South Carolina Gamecock, heard about the family through one of his old classmates and wanted to take part. The 6-foot-8 Balkman handed out cold cups of lemonade, posed for pictures and shook hands with those stopping by at Dent Middle School.
''I figured I could come down and help them raise money,'' Balkman said.
Frederick's father is a colonel stationed at nearby Fort Jackson and Army personnel were also on hand, as did some members of the South Carolina women's basketball team.
The Frederick family and volunteers were also registering potential bone marrow donors. Tony Frederick is awaiting a matching bone marrow donor.
Anthony Frederick has raised more than $17,000 through his lemonade sales, T-shirt and toys sales the past five years.
Dru Frederick said when she first learned of her disease, she was open as possible with her then 8-year-old son and explained the facts without embellishment. Anthony was bit scared at first, but soon began to come up with ways to help his mom.
Frederick went door-to-door selling lemonade and his beloved toy trucks. He and his younger sister Harmonie sold their school pictures to family members. ''He told me, 'Mom, I want you to have this,''' Dru Frederick said.
With Dru Frederick's cancer in check, Anthony did not want to abandon his fight. He said there were other families in similar situations needing help. ''I thought I could bring more people into it,'' the teenager said.
So he began the group, ''Kids Inspired by Cancer Kampaign'' (KICK) with friends to continue fundraising. The group had set up a table of modestly priced toys, like a plush Alf doll and a Monopoly game.
T-shirts were being sold by Gamecocks women's basketball players Ashley Bruner, Imani Sellers and Ebony Wilson.
Balkman said he returns to Columbia every once in a while to catch up with old teammates like Carlos Powell and Brandon Wallace. This time, he's was glad to spend some time supporting Anthony's Lemonade Stand.
''Selling his toys, what kind of kid does that?'' Balkman said in wonder. ''That means a lot.''
Balkman left the Gamecocks after his junior season and was a surprise first-round selection by the Knicks in 2006. He was traded to Denver before the 2008-09 season, then returned to New York this past February in the deal that brought Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to Madison Square Garden.
Balkman was part of South Carolina's back-to-back NIT championship teams in 2005 and 2006 and became a crowd favorite for his high-energy play. He appeared in only eight games combined for both teams last season and is ready to fully resume his NBA career.
''I feel like a gorilla behind a cage,'' Balkman said. ''When you let me out, I'm just going to do what I've got to do to get back out in the wild.''