Ben Dawe is 6, Abby Dawe is 5, and Elizabeth Dawe is 3. Add up their ages and the sum would be smaller than the age needed for a driver’s license.
Yet they are the driving force behind a fund-raising project that has, in just 3½ weeks, raised $246.40 for Children’s Hospital Boston.
This trio may be munchkin size, but what they’re doing is colossal. They are not only raising money, they are raising awareness in kids as young as they are, getting them to think about children whose health depends upon medicine and research and people who care.
Ben, Abby, and Elizabeth, along with their mother, Jen, are the proud owners of a yellow, green, and blue lemonade stand. Their dad, Greg, built it. Their big sister, Stephanie, plus all their cousins helped them paint it, and their mother carries it around in the back of her 2006 Honda Odyssey minivan, along with paper cups, hand sanitizer, and Country Time Lemonade, which she buys at BJ’s.
Afternoons and weekends, when Ben’s not at soccer, gymnastics, instructional baseball, or swimming lessons, and Abby’s not at gymnastics, soccer, or swim lessons, and Elizabeth’s not at gymnastics or swim lessons, and Jen is not at her 20-hour-a-week job as a staff nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess, they set up shop, at schools and athletic fields, and not just in Quincy, where they live, but in Canton and Hyde Park, where their aunts and uncles and cousins live.
The reason for such dedication is personal. It’s the littlest munchkin, Elizabeth.
When she was born, she was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, a heart condition that required surgery when she was 10 months old and that will require more surgeries. Elizabeth, called Elizabear by her family, is growing and playing and pouring lemonade because of her surgery.
“Children’s Hospital has helped little Bear and has amazing doctors that take awesome care of Elizabear,” Stephanie wrote on N-Star’s Walk for Children’s Hospital page.
“Not only do I want to raise money to thank them for helping my little sis,” Stephanie added, “but I want to help raise money for the kids at Children’s who aren’t doing as well as my sister.”
The personal leads to the general even for a 14-year-old.
Last Friday, Ben, who is a first grader at Merrymount School in Quincy, was recognized by the city of Quincy at its Annual Community Service Celebration breakfast, honored not just for raising money and caring about his sister, but for raising money and caring about children he doesn’t even know.
He wrote a speech. His parents helped, but the words are his:
“My name is Benjamin Dawe. I am in the first grade at Merrymount School. We built a lemonade stand to raise money for Children’s Hospital. My little sister is 3 years old and goes to the doctor a lot to have her heart checked. We brought our lemonade stand to playgrounds, parks, soccer fields, and baseball games. I am walking 2 miles on June 10 to support Children’s Hospital.”
Last spring, when Ben was 5, he donated his Little Einstein Red Rocket in a yard sale his parents and friends had to benefit Children’s Hospital.
Abby parted with her Tinkerbell pencil case and Elizabeth gave up two books she loved. Stephanie, who was 13 then, worked at the yard sale and played with her brother and sisters as well as the neighborhood kids all day.
This year they’re giving away lemonade instead of their books and toys. Yes, giving away. The lemonade is free.
“Anybody can have it,” Jen says with her trademark smile. “All we say is if you’d like to donate, you can. And almost everyone does.”
Ben, Abby, and Elizabeth and the cousins they sometimes recruit to help them all insist that the best part of having a lemonade stand, besides collecting money, is that you get to pour the lemonade.
But Jen disagrees. She says the best part for her is when other kids ask, “Why are you doing this?” and she hears the cousins and her kids explain, “To help kids like Elizabeth be able to live.”