Illinois best friends who both battled leukemia raise $12,000 for cancer patients

NORTHBROOK, Illinois -- Best friends Emma Bergeron and Johnny Sorial have a lot in common: They're both 11 years old and love playing ping-pong. They've also both battled the same cancer.

"I was super weak in my legs," Sorial said, of when he found out he had Leukemia in 2016. "I was really scared, and I felt really sick."

His best friend Emma had been through the same thing years earlier. Now a survivor, she's back in the fight to help Johnny get better.

"If you have someone, it helps you get through it," she said. "Because you know somebody's there for you."

Her presence during Johnny's treatments has made a world of difference.

"I looked at Emma, and she was fine, and she was feeling good," he said. "I kind of knew that that was just going to happen to me."
The duo wants to help other kids get better too, so they organized a lemonade stand in their hometown of Northbrook in September and raised $12,000.

"He knew that there was an unspoken bond," mom Susan Sorial said. "He didn't always have to say something to her...He knew that she knew how it felt, and I think that's extra special."

Emma and Johnny donated half the money to Lurie Children's Hospital and half to Advocate Children's Hospital, where they received treatment, respectively.

"It was so special," Susan Sorial said. "Everybody wanted to give, and everybody was so thoughtful."

On Tuesday, Emma gave Johnny a holiday gift she wrapped herself -- a drawing with a hand-written message that read, "The only way to beat cancer is to accept the reality, embrace the pain and find the courage to move forward, one day at a time."

Atop the artwork is a drawing of the pair on a bench, reminding Emma's pal once again that she's got his back.

The best friends hope to open their lemonade stand again next year, with plans to go even bigger.

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