Feeling zesty


Lauren Rocca

Mr. Blake visiting the SSD classroom, Nov. 5.

“It’s not a fundraiser without lemonade!” Parker Reed (9) said.

The Special School District has been raising money for Badges and Axes and Backstoppers, organizations that give money to families who have lost first responders in the line of duty.

With just seven kids manning this whole project, ideas swirled around the classroom.

Parker suggested a lemonade stand, but Mr. John Boedges, Special School District teacher, knew that the school’s food policy would not allow it.

Determined to make this fundraiser complete with a lemonade stand, Parker would not stop with one “No.”

“Parker is a smiley, happy dude,” Ms. Betsy Cuquet, SSD teacher, said. “I’m sure he has some struggles, and he says, ‘I have the Bluey Blues,’ but even when he says that I’m not totally buying it, you know? He’s just a happy dude. He is like a teddy bear. He’s like a little boy on the inside, but he’s not little physically.”

With his positive attitude still in tact, Parker moved around the room from person-to-person in hopes of convincing at least one person to have a lemonade stand at school. However, the unanimous consensus was that he could not have one at school, according to Ms. Cuquet.

Ah, at school. Parker had found a loophole and redirected his focus to a lemonade stand somewhere else.

“Parker is a very encouraging kid,” Mr. Boedges said. “When he sets his mind to something he really does do it. He was set on having that lemonade stand, and even though we unfortunately couldn’t do it at school, he was determined to make one outside of school.”

Though Parker and Mr. Boedges kept a positive attitude, not everyone felt the lemonade stand would succeed.

“I’m old school,” Ms. Cuquet said. “I’m thinking, ‘It’s only five cents a cup, dude. I don’t know if there’s enough juice for your squeeze there.That’s going to be a long time and a lot of work.’”

With Parker’s drive and Mr. Boedges’ positivity, the doubt would not stop a lemonade stand, which is just necessary for a fundraiser, according to Parker.

“I encouraged him to do it at home,” Mr. Boedges said.

Parker talked to his parents, and they got involved. He ended up holding his own lemonade stand in Pacific. The whole town of Pacific came out, according to Mr. Boedges.

One phone call from Mr. Brad Reed, Parker’s dad, to firefighter paramedic Mr. Floyd Blake, a friend, created a chain reaction. Mr. Blake called a colleague who called a colleague.

“They had a fire truck there, and all the first responders were there,” Mr. Boedges said. “When I drove up, the lemonade stand was bigger than I expected. I was thinking it was just going to be this table, but they had balloons and people out there holding signs. I was just amazed by how much the town really came together. It was just a small initiative that’s now gotten bigger and bigger.”

Alone, Parker raised $355.00 collecting donations and selling lemonade for just two hours outside of American Family Insurance, his dad’s company, at 104 West St. Louis Street in Pacific.

“The lemonade stand was awesome,” Parker said. “I felt surprised when I saw the firetruck and the ambulance, and I was surprised again when I saw that Mr. Boedges came. We got tickets to see Guns N’ Hoses, and I actually felt proud. My classmates thought it was awesome. A lemonade stand is a wonderful thing, right?”

Mr. Reed sure thinks it is a wonderful thing. All seven students received tickets to the Guns N’ Hoses event for them and their families to attend, Nov. 25.

“It’s awesome that Parker partook in the fundraiser and that all these kids have pulled together as a group to follow this whole thing through,” Mr. Reed said. “This is something that these kids can take a lot of pride in. They’re a part of helping an organization that reaches out to all these firefighters and any EMS workers and police officers who have fallen loved ones. It’s just extremely cool. I’m ecstatic for all of them.”

After the lemonade stand, the Pacific Fire Protection District supported in more ways than donations. Mr. Blake came into the kids’ class to let them all try on a real firefighter’s uniform, Nov. 5.

“I felt happy when I raised $355.00,” Parker said. “But it made me silly when I heard that the firefighters were going to come and let us try on their equipment.”

With the class’ efforts to support Backstoppers and Mr. Blake’s fun way of showing thanks, the situation was a win-win.

“It’s awesome that somebody, especially young people, would fundraise for an organization like Backstoppers,” Mr. Blake said. “It’s a humbling job, so when we see someone welcoming what we do, we have to help them out.”

Even with rewards and numerous compliments on his efforts, Parker stays humble.

“Parker is pretty excited,” Ms. Cuquet said. “But I had to bring it up to him. He just didn’t have much to say. He was pretty quiet and humble about it.”

Though Parker is persistent in humility, he, a 14 year old boy, taught lessons even adults can use with just one lemonade stand.

“You always have to think positive,” Ms. Cuquet said. “Don’t think, ‘No,’ or don’t think, ‘It can’t be done.’ If a kid thinks it can be done, then ‘Yes!’ We’ll try it! It can be done. After all these years, you still sometimes need somebody to put you back in your place and make you go, ‘Yep, you’re right.’ Who am I to say that can’t be done?”