Outpouring of support for Oshawa lemonade stand
From left to right: Danika Potter, 8, her sister Brigit, 10, and her brother, Corbin, 9. (DAVE THOMAS, Toronto Sun)
From lemon-raid to lemon-aid.
A nine-year-old autistic boy from Oshawa has experienced it all over the last 48 hours.
And while Corbin Potter’s bid to raise money for SickKids hospital with a lemonade stand was nearly scuttled by a cranky neighbour calling police, the boy has seen an outpouring of support after his plight was reported in the Toronto Sun.
Potter’s mother, Dawn, said she has been overwhelmed by well-wishers and offers to help Corbin raise money for the hospital.
“I was reading him some of the comments and he said ‘Oh, I did good Mommy?’” she said. “I was like, ‘Yes baby, you and your sisters did good.’ It wasn’t bad at all.”
Corbin’s burgeoning lemonade enterprise ran affoul of an unidentified female neighbour Monday. She scolded him for shouting to passersby to advertise the stand, tried to buy him off with $5 and then called the police who tried to shut the stand down because the family didn’t have a permit.
Potter said the incident underscores the need to not over-manage the simple things in life.
“It teaches entrepreneurial spirit, it teaches initiative. It helps them with planning. There are so many positives.”
David Estok, communications director for the SickKids hospital foundation, thanked the Potter family for the $135 they raised. Community fundraisers, including lemonade stands, help raise $16 million annually, he said.
“The money they raise is very much needed for the hospital,” he said. “We’re very grateful to the Potter family and Corbin.”
One of the many Toronto Sun readers who responded to the story was Loretta Gilbert, whose autistic son, Gabriel, had a similar experience in 2007 when he was seven-years-old. He wanted to run a lemonade stand to support SickKids and Ajax bylaw officers shut him down because he didn’t have insurance and a licence.
The subsequent public outcry helped them raise over $1,200 for the hospital, Gilbert said.
“I was touched by somebody in the community stepping forward to help us out and I want to do the same,” she said.
Oshawa Mayor John Henry said it is “shocking” that anyone would call 911 in response to something as quintessentially Canadian as a lemonade stand. The city does have vendor permits for food and drink stands, but that would only apply to adults — not children, he said.
“Even if we had been contacted, it’s a lemonade stand. My concern is how can something as traditional as a lemonade stand get to the point of a 911 call?”
Potter said the family is urging anyone wishing to donate to give to SickKids directly at http://www.sickkidsfoundation.com/donate/.