BETHLEHEM, Pa. (WLVT) - "I'm not going to give up. I am a fighter."
That's what Mike Geist told PBS39 in November 2018. The Bushkill Township fire warden and lieutenant was battling brain cancer.
"I am stubborn," he said. "I am 'Pennsylvania Dutch stubborn,' as they put it, and that will never change throughout my life."
Geist lost his battle in February at the age of 32, but his determination now fuels his nine-year-old son Joey.
"A friendly guy, very courteous, and he was kind," Joey said, describing his father.
Before Lt. Geist died, Joey came up with the idea to sell lemonade to benefit cancer research and help cancer patients in the Lehigh Valley.
"Helping is one of my most favorite things, and that’s one of my biggest dreams," Joey said.
"At the time, he didn’t want to burden me because of everything that was going on," Joey's mother Cindy said. "He started all this about a month or two before Mike actually passed away, and it’s just snowballed since then."
The lemonade fundraiser is called "Joey's Juices 5235," which honors the number of Lt. Geist's fire station.
Since January, Joey has raised more than $600. He presented a check to the American Cancer Society on Thursday at its Bethlehem office. The organization says that money goes straight to helping people here in the Lehigh Valley.
"Events like Road to Recovery and Hope Lodge, where somebody can get a ride to treatment for free or stay in one of our Hope Lodge locations for free when they’re getting treatment -- it’s all those things that donations like this go to help that people don’t realize we do right here in Bethlehem and Allentown and Easton and the surrounding areas," said Mark Stankiewicz, senior manager of community development.
Several people donated and bought lemonade at Joey's Juices Thursday, including members of BAYADA Hospice, which has been caring for the Geist before and after Lt. Geist's death.
"[Joey] is a child who has a huge heart, and, even in the midst of his own grief, he wants to help other people," said psychosocial manager Kathleen Bohannon. "I think that’s very special, and I think we have to encourage that."
"Thinking about this disease that took his father at such a tender age, it’s so sad," said Elizabeth Osman with BAYADA Pediatrics, who cares for Joey's younger siblings Zachary, 7, and Isabella, 5, six days a week at their Moore Township home. "But with him having that idea to help, i think it’s a very amazing story."
Joey didn’t want to talk much about his father, but his mom Cindy said Joey has the same heart as Lt. Geist.
"I'm sure he would be extremely proud of his son," she said. "I know he was when he was alive. I’m sure he would be even more proud of him now.”
Joey plans to take his lemonade stand around the Lehigh Valley this summer, including Moore Township Community Days in late August.
To watch the PBS39 report about Lt. Geist from November 2018, click HERE.