By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation will hold its 14th annual Lemon Ball fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 18. The foundation funds research for safe and effective treatments for childhood cancer. They also support families who are dealing with cancer and its many side effects.

We want you to meet 16-year-old Tony Salerno. He beat cancer but has been battling side effects for years.

Tony needs help standing up and leg braces give him the strength to take a few steps.

“There’s a lot of things I have to learn to deal with,” he said.

After first being diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was 2 years old, Tony has had a series of setbacks — all of the treatments needed to save his life have caused a host of new problems.

credit: CBS3

“He just amazes me,” Tony’s mother Karen Salerno said.

She feels lucky that he survived the last set of complications that started after he had a kidney transplant in 2017, where his dad was the donor.

“We have to figure out a way to live each day the best way we can,”  Karen Salerno said.

That was two years ago. Since then, the family was crushed to learn how bad things could get.

After the transplant, Tony had multiple organ failure and was given less than a 5% chance of survival.

“Sometimes you just get frustrated, you want to scream. What else does he have to deal with?” Tony’s mother said.

After eight months in the hospital, Tony developed Critical Illness Myopathy. All of the connections between the brain and muscles disappeared, which is why he has trouble talking and moving.

“At times it can be frustrating but I have just have learned to deal with it. There’s no reason to be angry about it,” Tony said. “I can’t help it if I tried.”

Rehab is helping, he is getting his strength back and last summer he even made eagle scout.

“He doesn’t stop. Nothing is going to get him down. Like I said, I take my energy from that,” his mother said.

She also says a lot of support has come from the foundation started by Alex Scott, who lost her battle with neuroblastoma when she was just 8.

“Alex’s Lemonade has been a blessing for us. Like Tony mentioned, it’s given us a second family,” Karen Salerno said. “It’s been support, it’s been friendship, it’s been a shoulder to cry on when we’re away from home.”

credit: CBS3

“They are an amazing foundation that helps many people, including myself,” Tony said.

For now, Tony is cancer-free — enjoying video games — a teenager with wisdom behindh is years.

For more information on the Lemon Ball, click here.

Stephanie Stahl

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