Hometown Hero, Student of the Month at San Jose Elementary, and a letter from the Florida House of Representatives, all from a $2,500 donation to help Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital help children with cancer.
Before Brooke became an instant celebrity, she was just a 9-year-old on a walk through a Dunedin park with her friend Aidan. They started picking oranges on that chilly January morning in 2014 when an idea was born. They could make orange juice. And sell it. And donate the money to the special needs class at her school.
That simple but brilliant idea led to the Awesome Orange Stand, multiple weekends of hard work for “the CEO” (as her parents call Brooke) and plenty of well-earned accolades from her community. “Brooke, her little brother Bradley and Aiden raised $100 at their first stand and gave it to the special needs teacher, who bought new books for her classroom,” explains Carissa, Brooke and Bradley’s mom.
That was rewarding, but they were just getting started. When her step-grandfather passed away from cancer a few months later, Brooke learned that years ago her stepsister had been treated for cancer at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. They decided the next round of donations would go to the hospital to help kids battling cancer.
“They got much more organized,” Carissa recalls. “They decided to set up their stand in the backyard along the Pinellas Trail again for more traffic. Aiden, who was in charge of advertising, rollerbladed up and down the trail with a sign that read ‘Cold Drinks for All Children’s Hospital.’ Bradley ran back and forth for supplies when needed.”
People were impressed. Some just gave $20 outright. Others enjoyed the drinks, fresh fruit and cookies for their donation. The group ran the Trail stand for a month or so of weekends in 2015 and raised about $200. Word got out and Brooke, selected as Fox 13’s Hometown Hero, was featured on the news.
“It feels really good to help the community,” she told the cameras.
Next, Brooke took her act on the road and went with her stepdad to a dinner party he was catering. She was encouraged to share her story, and the impressed audience started pulling out $100 dollar bills. That night, thanks to her duties as spokesman, she raised more than $2,000. The next step was presenting their donation at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, where Brooke, Bradley and Aidan were thrilled to take a custom tour of the hospital.
When asked if she has any philanthropic advice for her pre-teen peers, Brooke, who is now 11 and working on her first novel says, “Dream big, but take small steps.” Good advice from a CEO who hit it big during a walk in the park.
On Giving Tuesday everyone can be a hero at givetoallkids.org