Grace’s Lemonade Stand has been serving up its support for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders for the past 10 years. On Monday, May 28, 17-year-old Grace Bergin, the founder of Grace’s Lemonade Stand, sold lemonade on the Memorial Day Parade route in Farmington for the last time, wrapping up a decade of successful fundraising.
Bergin, who was inspired by the popular children’s book, Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand, was just 7 years old when she decided to start her own fundraising initiative to benefit children in her community. Since then, Grace’s Lemonade Stand has grown exponentially due to the support of her community. Raising just $226 in its inaugural year in 2009, Grace’s Lemonade Stand has since raised nearly $165,000 for Connecticut Children’s to benefit patient care.
“One can never underestimate the amount of stress a family is experiencing when a child is diagnosed with a devastating illness; it alters the life they knew,” said Michael Isakoff, MD, Clinical Director of Connecticut Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. “Grace’s Lemonade Stand has helped to lessen some of the burden many families face while traveling to and from the treatment center. Reimbursement for the cost of travel or meals while attending appointments is one of the simple ways, but is hugely welcomed by families during those life-altering days, weeks and even months,” he said.
“As a second grader, I never imagined that what started off as a small lemonade stand would end up raising as much money as it has and that I’d still be doing it 10 years later,” Bergin said. “Through the support and generosity of so many people — and Whole Foods Market donating the lemonade every year — we have been able to make a big difference in the lives of children and families being treated at Connecticut Children’s. I am honored to have made such an impact and I am so grateful to my generous supporters,” she said.
Supported by many family members and friends, Bergin transformed her fundraising initiative from a child’s front-lawn lemonade stand into an impressive virtual fundraising enterprise, with donations flowing in from all 50 states and several countries. This year, Bergin plans to reach her fundraising goal of $31,000 by using the online Connecticut Children’s “Create Your Own Fundraiser” platform, along with other outreach efforts.
As Grace’s Lemonade Stand wraps up its final year (online donations are still being accepted), Bergin says she is happy with all that she has accomplished.
“As my time in high school winds down at the same time as I hit my tenth year, it feels like a natural stopping point,” Bergin said. “I am very proud of what I have been able to accomplish and the impact it has made at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Along with raising money, I want to show other young people that they are never too young to make a difference,” she said.
Or to be an inspiration to others. In honor of her amazing fundraising success, Bergin was named the Connecticut High School Honoree for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.
Ching Lau, MD, Division Chief of Connecticut Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, says it’s not just Grace’s efforts or the money raised by Grace’s Lemonade Stand that are awe-inspiring. “It’s more about her LOVE for its purpose and the dedication and drive she has that are especially meaningful and inspiring to those here at Connecticut Children’s who have benefited from the generosity of Grace’s Lemonade Stand,” he said.
To make an online donation in support of Grace’s fundraising efforts, go to give.connecticutchildrens.org/graceslemonade. To learn how you can create your own online fundraiser, please visit give.connecticutchildrens.org/fundraise.