In a pink stand decorated with polka-dot flowers, Raiden Mlynek pours lemonade as pets wander past.
Raiden, 7, has only been selling pink lemonade to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for three and a half days. But she has already racked up $418 from customers in the Shawnee Animal Hospital, where she runs her business in the lobby.
“She’s pretty good about strong-arming you for a donation,” said Mike Steward, president and veterinarian at Shawnee Animal Hospital, and a friend of Raiden’s family.
A cup of lemonade, with or without ice, costs $1, Raiden said. But customers sometimes pay $20 for a lemonade, because they know it is for a good cause, said Gay Steward, who is godmother to Raiden’s mother, Holly, and married to Mike Steward.
“I saw it on the Today Show,” Raiden said, referring to the Girl’s Pink Lemonade Stand Challenge that was spotlighted on the Today Show last month. After learning about the challenge, she was inspired to try it for herself.
Now Raiden works six to seven hours at a time selling lemonade, Mike Steward said.
When Raiden decided she wanted to sell lemonade, everyone pitched in. Mike Steward let her set up shop in his lobby, while the Stewards’ friends Billy and Suzanne Brown constructed a custom lemonade stand for her.
Billy Brown, who is the head coach at Shawnee High School, also builds furniture on the side. His wife Suzanne designed and decorated the stand and he made it, he said.
“One, they’re good people and I know they’re doing it for the right reasons,” Billy Brown said. “And helping her learn what it’s about, giving back at a young age...learning how to do that is pretty big.”
Besides selling lemonade, Raiden is also involved in softball, competitive dancing and singing, Gay Steward said.
Raiden is waiting to accumulate $500 before making the first donation to cancer research, but she doesn’t have a particular goal of how much she wants to earn, she said.
The lemonade business runs from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and sometimes Mondays, Mike Steward said.
“She’s a kid that always known what she wants, and you can’t distract her from what she wants,” he said. “[If] she wants to sell lemonade, by golly she doesn’t want to sell Coke, she wants to sell lemonade.”