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Provo boy uses lemonade stand as fundraiser

By Debbie Balzotti - Daily Herald - | Apr 10, 2014

This is the fifth year Zack Francom has sold cookies and lemonade on his front lawn to raise funds for wheelchairs. The 10-year-old Provo boy and his family have made it an annual tradition to open “Zack’s Shack” lemonade stand in April to donate the profits.

He started with enough money to buy one wheelchair, and after last year’s successful campaign, his total now stands at 293 wheelchairs shipped by LDS Philanthropies to developing countries.

“Zack’s greatest gift is that he is changing lives — not only his, and his family’s — but many others,” said Glen Evans, Donor Liaison with LDS Philanthropies. “And he has done that in the context of giving wheelchair-related mobility to others in the process.”

It all started when Zack came home from first grade and told his mom, Nancy Bird, that he wanted to have a carwash and lemonade stand to raise enough money to donate a wheelchair.

“He came home from Wasatch Elementary, where they were challenged to donate to get wheelchairs for people who couldn’t afford them,” Bird said. “I talked him into doing cookies and a lemonade stand instead of a carwash and lemonade stand.”

Bird said Zack wanted to raise the $86, the cost of a wheelchair then.

“He was the only first-grader and I think the only person who did it on their own,” Bird said. “Now the wheelchairs cost $143. He is so committed to raising money to provide wheelchairs that he works really hard and spends a lot of hours doing this.”

Zack takes the fee and application into the Provo City offices, delivers flyers, and sends thank-you notices to donors. He uses his math skills to make the shopping list, helps with the baking, and runs the cash register. His mom does most of the baking, with help from Zack’s grandmothers.

His father, Danny Bird, helps with the business side of the humanitarian project, and is the beneficiary of the “casualty cookies.”

“Nancy does the baking because her cookies are amazing. She baked 350 dozen cookies this year,” said Danny Bird. “I help with marketing and the business details. I think one of the hardest lessons Zack learned about running a business, even if it is non-profit, is that it takes money to make money to give away.”

“I remember when he had to take money out of the till to buy more cups when we ran out. He was in tears thinking about how that money couldn’t buy a wheelchair. Now that he is a little older he understands. It is so rewarding and fun for him to count up how many wheelchairs he can give. One of the great things about this too is how much he is learning about himself and giving service.”

Zack said he loves giving service “even more than playing sports.”

“Chad Lewis told me to get an education first and sports comes second,” Zack said. “I love all sports but I also love selling cookies and lemonade so people that need a wheelchair can have one.

“My mom makes really good cookies. My favorite cookie she makes is snickerdoodle, but last year the big seller was the frosted sugar cookie. We ran out of those so people should come on the first day to get those. We have peanut butter chocolate chip, chocolate chip and oatmeal craisin,” said the young salesman.

Last year, Zack was awarded a $25,000 grant for his Zack’s Shack from the national State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program, based on the merit of his project and Facebook votes. He is hoping to again be a winner so he can purchase more wheelchairs. The contest will be later in April and will be posted on his Zack’s Shack Facebook page for voters.

“Zack has the kindest heart of any 10-year-old boy I’ve ever met,” said his mom. “He really believes in providing wheelchairs for those who can’t afford it. I know he is special and has been put here to do big things. Our job as parents is to support him in what he wants to accomplish. What parent wouldn’t do all they could?”

Zach’s Shack will be open at 556 E. Center St., Provo from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Cookies, lemonade and T-shirts will be sold to raise wheelchair funds. To donate online, go to itfeelsgreattogive.com for a link and more information.

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