By Andrew Beam
BALLSTON LAKE — When Caelin Bethel talked with her kids about what they could do to help the Broadbent family following Wednesday’s fire, they were thinking big.
“My kids said, ‘Let’s buy them a house,’” Bethel said.
Bethel said they needed to scale it down. So, she started to ask her kids what was the Broadbent’s family’s immediate needs? What do might they need medically? What might they need housing-wise?
It was decided they would try and raise money through a lemonade sale on Sunday. Bethel then called her friend Suzanne Morrison Gauvreau.
“[Bethel] said, ‘Our kids need to do something,’” Suzanne said. “‘Why not at your house?’”
The lemonade was free, but the kids also went around to collect donations for the Broadbent family, who suffered a devastating fire to their home on Woodshire Court in Malta.
The family — made up of 10 children, all adopted, with seven of them having disabilities — did suffer the loss of Eric Edwards, 32, and four other family members were sent to the hospital.
The father, Glenn Broadbent Sr., 60, was flown to Westchester Medical Center for treatment for his burns, and his wife, Janette Broadbent, 64, was sent to Albany Medical Center for smoke inhalation, but was released on Thursday.
Two of the kids, Marcus Broadbent, 12, and Lucas Broadbent, 5, were sent to Albany Medical Center for smoke inhalation.
But once Marcus arrived at the hospital, he was soon transferred to Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston to be treated for burns.
Ashley Armitage, who has been helping the family since the fire occurred and has been running the Broadbent Family Fire Relief page on Facebook, said Marcus’ condition is improving. Glenn is currently in critical but stable condition.
But the scene on Sunday was an upbeat one.
There were pop-up tents set up to protect the tables from the rain, someone playing an acoustic guitar singing songs while several kids rushed out to people walking up the driveway to ask them if they wanted lemonade.
“It’s the go-to kid thing,” Suzanne said.
London Morrison Gauvreau, Suzanne’s son who used to be on the same school bus at Marcus, was greeting each person who came up their driveway with a choice of yellow or pink lemonade.
Suzanne said her son and Marcus made a close connection during their time riding the school bus together, even though London was mistakenly put on the bus. Even though they don’t get to see each other anymore, London still cares for him saying he’s “kinda sad” they don’t get to ride on the bus together anymore.
Cameron Smith, 10, goes to school with Haley Broadbent, though they are not in the same classes. He said he was happy to see so many people in the community come out to support the family because they need help.
“Since they’ve been going through so much with the fire, we thought [the lemonade stand] would be good for them,” Smith said. “It’s really nice all of these people care about them and know they need help. We just want to support them.”
Armitage was blown away by the support shown on Sunday.
“I’m in shock,” Armitage said. “It’s wonderful.”
Armitage also said Janette is “ecstatic” over the donations that have rolled in. This includes the more than $25,000 donated through the GoFundMe account set up for the family, and numerous material donations, including DVDs for the kids.
For Suzanne and Caelin Bethel, though, this is what a community does when one of its own is in trouble.
Suzanne said ever since they announced the lemonade stand, strangers have come up to her with envelopes of cash for the family.
“Everybody comes forward,” Suzanne said. “That’s who this community is.”
Suzanne stressed to members of the media that the No. 1 priority for the family currently is housing.
The family is looking to rent a home in the Shenendehowa Central School District, where four of their children go to school. The home must be large enough to accommodate 11 people, with two bedrooms on the first floor because of the children’s disabilities.