Grace Bergin, 17, of Farmington, Conn., a junior at Miss Porter’s School, has raised more than $144,000 over the past nine years to support the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center by selling lemonade. When Grace was in first grade, she was given a book about a little girl with cancer named Alex who raised $1 million before her death by running lemonade stands to fight childhood cancer. “I read the book over and over and decided that I, too, wanted to do a lemonade stand,” said Grace. After moving to a new town and learning that the Memorial Day parade passed in front of her house, Grace decided to sell lemonade in her front yard during the annual event.
That first year, Grace operated one stand and raised $226. Now, every year she has multiple stands along the parade route, as well as volunteers walking wagons up and down the street, selling to bystanders. To prepare, she sends emails to loyal donors in 42 states, recruits volunteers, makes online appeals through her website, and solicits local businesses for support. Whole Foods Market donates all of the lemonade. In addition to selling at the parade, Grace has recently started serving her beverages at sporting events and local businesses. Since she started her philanthropic venture, two close friends have been diagnosed with cancer. “As well as being supportive of them during treatment, I also feel like I’m helping in a larger way, too,” Grace said.