NORTH CANTON, Ohio -- Five-year-old Cassidy Cecil has been planning for this day for months.
She set up a lemonade stand in front of her home on the 4th of July, prepared to serve 19 gallons of freshly squeezed lemonade to benefit wounded veterans.
Dozens of people including bikers, North Canton fire fighters and veterans lined up to support her.
Her father said she got the idea following an impromptu lemonade stand last Independence Day. But this time, she wanted to benefit a charity.
“She said completely unprompted, ‘I want to donate some of my money or all of my money,’” Jon Cecil said.
The family selected the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. program, which builds adaptive homes for wounded veterans.
“She really felt like that was going to be the biggest help for people, to get people back to their independence because these people have given so much for our country,” said Cecil, who is a Marine Corps and Army National Guard veteran. “I couldn't be prouder as a dad and as a veteran both.”
Since January, her family collected 40 pounds in lemons, plus sugar and supplies, spending hours squeezing the lemons.
“We've been very blessed. A lot of local businesses have donated lemons, friends and family have donated sugar, a lot of random people have donated to help us get supplies,” said Cassidy’s mother, Susanne. “All the prep work was called ‘Operation Squeeze and Freeze’ because we spent all winter squeezing and freezing the lemon juice so that we'd have it ready to make fresh.”
Veteran Bill Benton and his wife made a special trip to North Canton from Plain Township to visit the stand.
“Just makes your heart beat,” he said.
On this steamy Fourth of July, lemonade was in high demand. But, the meaning behind the lemonade stand made it even sweeter.