Zack Francom didn’t just turn lemons into lemonade, he masterminded an entrepreneurial endeavor that is helping those who are less fortunate around the globe.
For five years, the 11-year-old from Provo, Utah has set up a lemonade and cookie stand in front of his house, selling homemade delights to the locals for two days straight and using his profits to buy wheelchairs for those in need. The first year, he earned enough to buy one wheelchair; the next year, he bought 10. He’s since shipped out about 300 wheelchairs across the world, a gift totaling $50,000.
“Other kids do lemonade stands to make money and people will come, but with mine, it’s more of a charity,” Zack tells Ellen’s Good News. “That makes more people come, and they’ll tell me it's amazing.”
The annual project, known as Zack’s Shack, started when the young boy was in first grade, and was challenged by his school to help raise money for wheelchairs. Zack took the initiative as his own, and got his parents involved as well.
Through social media, word of mouth, and some pretty delicious baked goods, Zack’s Shack took off, doubling in profits each year as thousands of people came by to get a drink and help support the cause. Last year, the organization was voted one of the top 40 charities in the country by the online community, and Zack was awarded a $25,000 grant from State Farm.
Because of his success, Zack has gotten offers to take his business on the road, but the sixth-grader, who wants to be either a professional athlete or architect when he's older, says he wants to keep it simple and focus on larger ambitions.
“My goal is to have other kids join me by doing their own [branded] lemonade stand and combining all the money together,” Zack says. “I also want to be able to deliver the wheelchairs… I want to go and see the expressions on people's faces when they receive them.”
The wheelchairs Zack ships out go to countries all around the world, including Guatemala and Jordan. He says he knows this is making a big impact as the ability to mobilize makes a huge difference in anyone’s life.
“If you’re a disabled adult, you won’t be able to work for your family without a wheelchair,” Zack points out. “There’s a lot of things you can’t do – you can’t travel; if you’re a kid, you can’t play. Getting a wheelchair gives you that mobility to do those things you want to do.”
And to see the face of someone whose life he’s changed with his after school treats, that would be the sweetest gift of all.
“In the very first year, there were a couple missionaries in Jordan that translated a letter sent to me by a boy who received a wheelchair,” Zack recalls. “The letter said, ‘Thank you for people like you that are giving wheelchairs to people like me,’ and that made me feel really great.”