This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2004, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
One of Simon Vodosek's last wishes was for children in Utah to set up lemonade stands to raise money for pediatric cancer research.
Simon, who was 7, died early Friday morning at his Salt Lake City home, knowing his friends were fulfilling those hopes. His mother, father and younger sister were with him.
On July 31, two girls who met Simon at the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City made $300 selling lemonade in their Park City neighborhood. They will give the money to Alex's Lemonade Stand for Pediatric Cancer Research, a foundation started by Alex Scott, an 8-year-old Pennsylvania girl who died Aug. 1 from the same cancer that killed Simon.
The Rev. Tom Goldsmith of the First Unitarian Church has frequently visited the Vodosek family. Goldsmith said Simon had a peaceful, almost blissful spirit about him in the last week.
"It touches you in such a profound way that such a young life is lost," Goldsmith said. "I hope it inspires people to be as generous as they can, and hopefully research will come through and prevent these unbelievably sad situations from occurring."
Kay Beaton, whose daughter, Heather Johnston, 6, organized the Park City lemonade stand with her friend, Nicole Greene, said she and other church members plan to stage a large lemonade fund-raiser at Simon's memorial, which is not yet scheduled.
"Since there wasn't much we could do for Simon, he asked that we have a lemonade stand to raise money for pediatric cancer," said Beaton, who brought lasagna for the family Thursday.
Heather said she opened the lemonade stand "because I like making lemonade, and the money went to help kids like Simon that are sick."
The hardest part about seeing Simon so ill, she said, was he "can't play anymore . . . that's sad."
The lemonade stand movement has grown rapidly, boosted by Alex's June appearance on Oprah Winfrey's TV show. With donations from around the world, she had raised about $700,000 toward her $1 million goal by the time she died. Corporate commitments are expected to push her foundation past that mark, and the money will go to pediatric cancer research centers around the country.
Simon and Alex both fought neuroblastoma, one of the most common solid tumors of early childhood.
Usually found in babies or young children, the disease typically originates in the abdomen, chest, neck or pelvis.
"The outcome is really correlated to the stage of the tumor," said Dick Lemons, medical director and division chief of hematology/oncology at Primary Children's Medical Center and the U.
In some children, "the outcome is often poor, even with very aggressive chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation," he said.
Simon was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age 4, when he and his family lived in Ann Arbor, Mich.
They moved to Utah about a year ago when his father, Markus Vodosek, was hired by the University of Utah as an assistant business professor.
Before the family moved, they checked out the Unitarian church and the services at Primary Children's Medical Center.
Two days before Simon's death, his mother, Mary Craig, updated his condition on http://www.simonsplace.org, a Web site dedicated to Simon, saying he was hanging on.
"Simon is resting quietly this afternoon," she wrote. "We continue to be amazed at his stamina. We love every moment with him, even as we miss the times when he could tell us more. In the last 24 hours, he's made several clear requests to sit up for a while. He woke us around 2 a.m. and said, 'Sit me up now!'
Simon spent his last days receiving visitors, watching Pokemon videos and resting. On Friday, his Web site read:
"Simon died quietly today. . . . He was reclining comfortably in bed, nestled closely by Markus and Mary, with Miriam (his 4-year-old sister) sleeping nearby . . . We miss our wonderful boy."
Goldsmith tried to bring comfort to Simon's parents, discussing his afterlife and what a special child he was.
"For a little guy, he had a great scientific mind," Goldsmith said. "He was a big Pokemon fan and loved playing Nintendo games and tag.
"We tried to imagine what the perfect afterlife would be for Simon - a mirror of all the great things we experience here on earth. He always wanted to be able to run around like a boy should be able to do."