Gabrielle’s Story - Young fundraiser uses lemonade to change lives
Twelve-year-old Gabrielle is hoping it’s a scorching hot sunny day on June 26.
Sweltering temperatures and blazing sunshine would be ideal conditions for selling lemonade.
And Gabrielle knows that every cool refreshing glass sold will help kids with disabilities.
Though she’s just finished Grade 7, Gabrielle is a seasoned and savvy fundraiser.
She’s been raising funds for Holland Bloorview through lemonade stands since she was in Grade 4.
That was when she first took swimming lessons at the hospital’s pool.
When not perfecting her front crawl or backstroke, she took a little time to look around the hospital and she was inspired by what she saw.
“I read about the work it was doing and I wanted to get more involved,” she said. “I think it’s a great facility for children, and there are incredible people here.”
She dug a little deeper and learned about the hospital’s promising research, like the work of Dr. Tom Chau and his development of the Hummer switch.
This exciting new technology picks up on humming in children who cannot speak, and translates the vibration of their vocal cords into typing letters on a computer.
“He’s giving kids with disabilities a voice,” said Gabrielle.
And that’s when Lemonade for Possibility was born.
“Although I can’t do work like this and invent devices, I can help by fundraising for these children,” she said.
On June 26, Gabrielle will set up her lemonade stand in a small park, right next to a subway station entrance.
She plans on having two shifts to catch the morning and afternoon rush hour commuters.
And she won’t be alone. Serving lemonade and cookies beside her will be her family, including her younger siblings. (She has to keep an eye on her younger twin brothers, as they tend to eat the cookies, she noted.)
While raising funds for Holland Bloorview is important, so too is just raising awareness about Holland Bloorview and about childhood disability, she said.
It’s so easy to start that conversation over a cold beverage.
While her stand will take up a small space in a park, Gabrielle envisions Lemonade for Possibility becoming a city-wide event with children hosting stands across Toronto.
And that’s starting to happen. This summer Holland Bloorview has handed out dozens of Lemonade for Possibility kits and as a result families have already raised more than $3,000. (The target goal is $10,000 by summer’s end.)
The kits include a Holland Bloorview branded apron, balloons, posters and stickers to place on buckets or boxes for donations, as well as a tablecloth.
She’s hoping other kids will get outside, don an apron and start pouring for a good cause.
“It’s a great way to change the life of a kid with a disability and give them more opportunities,” said Gabrielle.