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9-year-old CEO is raising funds to help fix kids’ hearts

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Joshua Belzowski at the David Foster Foundation Gala, where he pledged to raise $10,000 from his lemonade stand to sponsor a family going through a child’s organ and heart transplant
Joshua Belzowski at the David Foster Foundation Gala, where he pledged to raise $10,000 from his lemonade stand to sponsor a family going through a child’s organ and heart transplant

The 17th annual Amanda’s Lemonade Stand fundraiser will take place Oct. 25 at 33 Post Rd. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., but this year, it features a new twist: it’s been fully “Joshified.”

Nine-year-old Joshua Belzowski, CEO of Amanda’s Lemonade Stand, has taken over planning for the event to raise funds to fix kids’ hearts, but he’s also raising awareness about the importance of getting involved in helping others.

“At the recent David Foster Foundation Gala, my brother Joshua proudly stood up in front of 1,000 people and personally pledged to raise an additional $10,000 more at this year’s lemonade stand fundraiser, specifically to sponsor a family going through a child’s organ and heart transplant,” said older sister Amanda, founder of Amanda’s Lemonade Stand.

Amanda was only two years old when her family held its first lemonade stand. To date, she and her family have raised more than $200,000 for the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Save A Child’s Heart, and the Hospital for Sick Children.

Said Mike Ravenhill, CEO of the David Foster Foundation, which supports families of kids who need organ transplants and is a first-time beneficiary this year: “The David Foster Foundation is thrilled and honoured that through the annual Amanda’s Lemonade Stand, they have graciously included our foundation as one of the beneficiaries. At the end of the day our families and children ‘win the day’ as 100 per cent of the donations received through this event to the foundation will go to support families and children across Canada, going through the life-saving organ transplant process.”

Giving from the heart is what Josh and Amanda’s mother, Lisa Fruitman-Belzowski, learned from her late father, Lou Fruitman, and what her children learned from their zaide.

Fruitman-Belzowski explained to The CJN how it all began.

“I was on the very first [Becel Heart and Stroke] Ride for Heart. I carried on in that vein with my husband and daughter Amanda, who was just shy of two years old [when she first attended], riding in the back carrier of my bike. I explained to her why there were so many people on the ride. I put her hand on her heart – because you can ‘feel’ that – and I said, all of these people are fixing the heart, because for some people it doesn’t sound like that – it makes a different thump,” Fruitman-Belzowski said.

“On the way home from the ride, we stopped for lemonade where two young girls had set up a lemonade stand. It inspired us, so we set up our own lemonade stand on our front lawn a week later. All week, Amanda was putting her hand on her heart and telling everyone what she had learned,” she added.

“Amanda raised $500 that first year and knew she had done something good. She understood she helped fix hearts the way only a small child can. It really is as simple as that. Kids can do these things and they understand. That’s what makes it magical.”

Now a first-year student away at university, Amanda eventually decided to hand over the event to Joshua, who has been by her side since he was born, and has followed closely in her footsteps.

“I have been CEO since I was five years old. Amanda really needed a helper. I was in charge of the cookie counter, pouring the lemonade and talking to everybody,” said Josh with a smile.

Amanda will be at the fundraising event to help mentor, but this is the first year Josh will be doing all the planning.

“Josh drew a picture when he was three years old of a heart flower. It actually represented an organ transplant, and now Joshua is going to teach people about the importance of registering to be an organ donor and help raise funds and awareness as well,” Amanda said.

All of the proceeds will help fix kids’ hearts locally and worldwide through SickKids Hospital, Save a Child’s Heart and through research sponsored by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. As well, it will go toward promoting organ donation. This year, in addition to the David Foster Foundation, Joshua has added Canadian Blood Services and Trillium Gift of Life Network, to help promote becoming an organ donor, as beneficiaries.

“Our motto: you are never too little to make a big difference. If we can raise $200,000 on a front lawn, then anything is possible,” said Joshua with pride.

The event will have food, kids activities, music, live auction and plenty of free lemonade, sugar-free lemonade and cookies for all.