Nevaeh Denine's family remember fearless girl who could 'move a mountain'
9-year-old battled cancer much of her life, but didn't let it stop her helping others
The death of Nevaeh Denine, whose famous lemonade stand raised over $100,000 for children just like her battling cancer, has left a void that's keenly felt by her friends, family, and the wider community.
The 9-year-old St. John's girl died Monday after a long battle with a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma that she was diagnosed with when she was just 2 years old.
"You weren't going to stop her. She would move a mountain, she could jump over your house, there was no limit to her, and she was fearless," said Barb Denine Evans, Nevaeh's great aunt.
Denine Evans said Nevaeh made it to her annual lemonade stand at the end of July, and was out swimming on Regatta Day Aug. 1, despite back-to-back therapy and radiation which depleted her energy.
Health declined suddenly in past week
This past Friday, however, her health took a turn for the worse after she had a blood transfusion.
"As she was coming out of the Janeway, she told her mom she wasn't feeling well, and when they turned around they went back in the Janeway. and she was admitted right away," said Denine Evans.
"Her mom said you could see the look of peace on her face when they took her back in, and she didn't wanna come back home, and her breathing became shallow."
It was a sudden turn of events for the close knit family, and they rallied to be by Nevaeh's side in her final days.
One thing that has brought some measure of comfort, Denine Evans said, is the outpouring of kind words the family has received from people all over the province and beyond.
"Dealing with the grief of losing her, and the void that's left in the pit of your stomach, the messages coming back in ... it's almost like it's an even balance," she said.
"People are really trying to offer their best condolences."
Remember her as a 'true icon'
Nevaeh's aunt wants her positive legacy to be remembered.
She said that at no point did Nevaeh ever give in to her illness, or let it stop her from experiencing joy.
This evening City Hall and the Convention Centre will be lit in yellow in recognition of the passing of Nevaeh Denine, a sweet little girl who taught us all about courage, caring and love. She was an inspiration to us all. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayersForNevaeh?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PrayersForNevaeh</a> <a href="https://t.co/iavQBndhw9">pic.twitter.com/iavQBndhw9</a>—@CityofStJohns
After every chemo treatment, or hospital stay, she would be ready to get out and enjoy the world right away.
"If she can do this, so can the next person, so don't give up," said Denine Evans.
"Just because it took her, it doesn't matter, just keep going. You have a family to live for. She lived it for everybody and herself."
Denine Evans said there are lessons to be learned from Nevaeh's story about living life to the fullest.
"For somebody who's nine, if she didn't change your perspective on how you live, nobody would," she said.
"She is definitely a true icon in my opinion."
Started lemonade stand in 2014
After finding herself inspired while watching the Janeway Telethon, Nevaeh began a fundraising effort in 2014 called Nevaeh's Lemonade Stand to help other kids with like herself.
The lemonade stand became a huge social event, attended by tens of thousands of people.
After news of Nevaeh's death spread, people from across the province and beyond started posting condolences on social media, including Premier Dwight Ball, St. John's Mayor Danny Breen, and foundations that help sick children and families of sick children.
The City of St. John's said it will light city hall and the convention centre in yellow on Tuesday night in honour of Nevaeh.
The song has ended but the melody lives on. (Irving Berlin)<br><br>We send our sincere condolences to those that knew and loved Neveah Joey Denine. In her 9 short years, she had a tremendous impact on her world, and that legacy will live on. <br><br>Photo Credit: Amanda Dinn-Mercer <a href="https://t.co/QXYTqJo0NW">pic.twitter.com/QXYTqJo0NW</a>—@UnitedWayNL
Our prayers are with Nevaeh's family tonight. <br><br>She brought so many volunteers together to build the biggest lemonade stand, every year.<br><br>She showed us so much courage and strength.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayersForNevaeh?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PrayersForNevaeh</a> <a href="https://t.co/Z28HSfVApz">pic.twitter.com/Z28HSfVApz</a>—@SeamusORegan
On behalf of all of us at the Janeway Foundation, we send our sincerest condolences to Nevaeh's Mom, family and dear friends. May Nevaeh's love, generosity and kindness live on in everyone she touched. <a href="https://t.co/0pLclg7YpW">pic.twitter.com/0pLclg7YpW</a>—@JanewayNL
9 years old Nevaeh Denine did so much for so many. She was an incredible, selfless & brave to think of others while dealing with so much herself. She was a Young Hero <a href="https://twitter.com/OURHOUSENL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OURHOUSENL</a> for the generosity Life gave her lemons and she made lemonade - for everyone. 💜🍋 R.I.P. Nevaeh <a href="https://t.co/3I5JWyeOxi">pic.twitter.com/3I5JWyeOxi</a>—@OURHOUSENL
Our thoughts and prayers are with a sweet little girl who taught us all about courage, caring and love; an inspiration to us all <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayersForNevaeh?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PrayersForNevaeh</a> Nevaeh Denine, 9, Passes Away <a href="https://t.co/rqS6d7cPOE">https://t.co/rqS6d7cPOE</a> via <a href="https://twitter.com/VOCMNEWS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@vocmnews</a>—@DannyBreenNL
Heartbroken to hear of Nevaeh Denine’s passing. Sending my condolences to Nevaeh’s family, friends, and all of those touched by her bright shining light.—@PremierofNL
An incredibly brave, inspiring 9 year old girl made such a difference in our community: battling cancer and raising funds with her annual event, Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand. RIP angel. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/hero?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#hero</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nevaehslemonadestand?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nevaehslemonadestand</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nl?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nl</a> <a href="https://t.co/Q7favnS5mm">pic.twitter.com/Q7favnS5mm</a>—@deannefoley
Our hearts are broken. We should all strive to be even half the person Nevaeh Denine was. Brave, Selfless, Strong, & Courageous. She never gave up. The mark left on our community by this incredible young girl will last a lifetime. Life gave her lemons and she made lemonaid. 💜🍋—@RNC_PoliceNL
She was such a sweet girl with a big heart, her courage and strength will be missed for sure! Lots of love to the Denine family today 💜💛💜💛💜 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nevaeh?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nevaeh</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/nevaehdenine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nevaehdenine</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/NevaehsLemonade?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NevaehsLemonade</a> <a href="https://t.co/1Gel6e5nU7">pic.twitter.com/1Gel6e5nU7</a>—@karleenasquires
It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of one of our beloved students, Neveah Denine. <br>She has been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to all. Nevaeh has touched the lives of so many with her spirit and bravery. <br>Our thoughts are with the Denine family.—@Goulds_Elem
A funeral will be held for Nevaeh Denine on Aug. 9 at St. Kevin's Parish at 10 a.m.
She spoke with CBC News in 2015 after a successful lemonade stand fundraiser that year. You can watch that previous report in the media player.
With files from Stephanie Tobin and Kate McGillivray