Six years ago, sisters Alex and Emma D’Amico were elementary school age when they learned that their little cousin had cancer. Their feeling of devastation was outweighed only by the desire to fight for a cure.

That summer, the pair chose to raise money, and what better way in the sweltering heat than a lemonade stand at their Bristol Avenue home? The sisters raised $545 that year for Smilow Cancer Hospital — and started a summer tradition that has ultimately raised some $37,000 to aid sick children.

“It’s amazing how much we have helped raise in a short six years,” said Emma. “We have faith there will be a cure for cancer, and children or anyone will not have to go through this terrible disease anymore.”

“I am extremely proud and thankful to have the opportunity to do this,” said Alex about the lemonade stand success. “It is great every year to see all the new faces. We are always trying to introduce new, fun items to bring more people out to help the cause.”

What started as the two sisters — who are now entering their sophomore year at Shelton High — making freshly squeezed lemonade for passersby has expanded to more than just lemonade. Four years ago, the sisters’ friend Megan Loiacano joined the fund-raising effort, and the trio tabbed themselves 3 for Faith.

“When I found out what (the sisters) were doing, I really wanted to be a part of helping these children who need so much support,” said Megan. “I really love kids. The money raised is going to an amazing cause, and seeing the community come together to help us raise this money is amazing.”

Besides lemonade, the three girls also sold handmade items, such as potholders and bracelets, and 3 for Faith t-shirts as well as soliciting local businesses for such items as gift cards and gift baskets, which are raffled off.

At the fund-raiser held on Aug. 17 nearly $7,000 was raised, and others interested in donating to the cause can do so on the girls’ Facebook page. All the funds raised go to the Make A Wish Foundation, making it two consecutive years the girls have chosen this charity to support.

Emma said funds raised at the stand were donated to Smilow Cancer Hospital for the first four years, but the trio chose to shift to Make A Wish Foundation because they wanted to broaden the range of children that they could help.

“We had originally chosen to donate to Smilow to help kids with cancer, but over time, we looked at Make A Wish because we wanted to help children with many different illnesses,” said Emma.

"We chose Make A Wish to help little kids that have cancer or other diseases and make them happy,” added Megan, a Shelton resident who is an incoming freshman at Lauralton Hall in Milford. “I like that opportunity to show these kids, who are facing so much adversity, the brighter side of life.”

Alex recalled how the trio met one of the children whose wish came true last year because of the trio’s donation. The child was able to travel to Africa and go on a safari — all because of the money donated to Make A Wish.

“It was breathtaking to hear the story,” said Alex, adding that the child talked of seeing a cheetah. “We got to see how happy this child was, and it really brought this all full circle for us.”

This year, two Make A Wish Foundation families visited the stand to greet the girls, which was something all three said was inspiring.

“I’m beyond proud of the girls,” said Megan’s father, Dom Loiacano. “It is great to see them come up with the ideas and then go out and do it so successfully. This is something we as parents love to see. What can make us more proud than watching our children be such good role models?”

“A big part of our success is our support system,” said Alex. “Our families, and all the people who come out every year to support what we are trying to do. All the businesses and friends that donate items for raffles … they are all a big reason why we have been able to help so many children.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com