After sisters began with small lemonade stand 10 years ago, | Bake sale grows in influence

Mental health month is coming to a close, but Cedar Falls community members are not done promoting mental health and cancer awareness. 

This Thursday and Friday, May 29 and 30, from 3-7 p.m. and this Saturday, June 1, from 9-1 p.m. at 215 N. Division St., will be the 10th annual Team Strassburg (Relay for Life)/Team Forever 21 (Alive & Running) bake-lemonade sale founded by the Tournier family. 

Tehya Tournier, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, said her family has always been involved with Relay for Life, a community-based event for The American Cancer Society and felt connected to the cause because her grandfather died from lung cancer a few months before she was born. One day she thought of a bake sale as a good way to donate to the cancer cure. “We weren’t doing anything that day I guess, so we got a card table, and I think we made a couple batches of cookies and that was it, and more and more people started coming that day,” Tournier said. 

Tehya and her sister, Aaliyah, made around $300 that year. Now, along with the lemonade stand and the help of community members, family and friends, they have raised around $10,000 for Relay for Life and Alive & Running ( an organization for suicide awareness and prevention) over the past 10 years. 

For the Tournier family, these organizations have meanings that are close to heart.  In 2012, Tehya’s friend, Megan Keough, lost her brother, Jeremy Coonrad, to suicide at the age of 21. At an Alive & Running event, the families came up with a team called “Team 21” and in 2013 started allocating half the earnings from the bake sale to Alive & Running. “As the years went on, in our friend group and in our family, we kept seeing losses from cancer, suicide and more struggles with mental health issues, so it is just really important and has a lot of back round to it,” Tournier said. 

Team Strassburg stms from the teacher at Cedar Heights elementary, Mark Strassburg. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. After his diagnosis, the bake-lemonade sale created Team Strassburg and it became involved with the event.

Strassburg believes that staying positive in difficult situations benefits not only one’s self, but young ones watching. “These kids at the bake sale know that when you’re dealt a difficult hand, they look at how you react to it,” he said. “If you react to it in a positive way, that can keep good spirits and hopefully follow them later in life whenever they struggle with something.” 

In addition to Tournier’s friends and family, people all over Cedar Falls are reaching out to help support the causes that the bake-lemonade sale is supporting. “We get so many people baking for it including the Straussberg family, the whole Keough family, our whole family and extended family members. Random people on Facebook also always ask if they can bake stuff for us,” Tournier said.

Not only has this bake-lemonade sale helped people who are struggling with mental illness and cancer, but it also helps people who volunteer for the bake sale, like Tehya and her sister, Aaliyah. “It was so important for us to grow up in this volunteering world, you know to humble ourselves, and see that a lot of people have it harder than we do. We get to see the impact we have on on these people and how a dollar can make so much more change than nothing,” Tehya said. 

“It has helped us become more interested in volunteering. It has gotten us into wanting to help people more,” Aaliyah said. 

Tournier said that the bake sale has grown tremendously this year. “There is going to be a couple raffle boxes. I think we are going to get someone to donate doughnuts for the morning on Saturday. My sister makes bracelets to sell there, and we’re going to have the ‘#let’s start talking’ apparel there too,” she said. 

Strassburg said that because younger and younger people are being affected by cancer, “If we can make them aware that this a disease that we have to put some money toward, to hopefully find a cure, then maybe we will have birthdays for their loved ones down the road.”

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