When 4-year-old Emmy Weidmann told her parents she wanted to have a lemonade stand one day this past summer, her parents expected it to work out like most childhood stands do. "We prepared her for our own experiences with running a lemonade stand where you basically earned a quarter because your grandma drove by," Emmy's mom, Cassie Weidmann, tells us.
But young Emmy had a secret weapon — signs posted throughout her neighborhood that read, in big black letters, "Proceeds go to Mayo Clinic's Pediatric Ophthalmology Department in Honor of Emmy's Left Eye." It was a stroke of marketing brilliance that Cassie says kept Emmy pouring her pink lemonade for much of the day. "People just flocked," Cassie tells us. "She ended up making $40, and it was just amazing. People stayed and we talked to them about our experience at Mayo Clinic, and Emmy talked about Dr. B. and her surgery, and about how they're best buddies."
"Dr. B.," as Emmy and her parents call him, is Erick Bothun, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus. He's been treating Emmy for a cataract in her left eye since it was discovered by her pediatrician in the Twin Cities during a routine well-child exam. "Everything was going completely normal until she checked Emmy's eyes, and then she got really quiet," Cassie tells us. "She brought in a few other people to check, and then she said, 'There's something going on.' She had me look, and I could definitely see a mark in Emmy's eye."
From there, Emmy was referred to a specialist, who turned out to be Dr. Bothun. Their connection was instant. "They just bonded," Cassie says. "Dr. B. is one of Emmy's favorite people in the world, and she actually looks forward to coming to Mayo Clinic because of him. I don't know if many people can say that."
Emmy, however, can. And on the day of her lemonade stand, she did that and more, telling everyone who stopped by all about the "amazing progress" she made with the initial eye-patching treatment Dr. Bothun prescribed and about the surgery he performed to remove her cataract.
It was only after a little pressing, however, that Emmy revealed to her parents the full truth about why she wanted to sell lemonade to begin with. "The day she wanted to do it, it was like a million degrees outside, and I thought, 'Oh gosh, I don't know if we should do this today,'" Cassie tells us. "And Emmy says, 'But I need to make the money for Mayo Clinic.'"
Cassie tells us Emmy had decided that Mayo's Pediatric Ophthalmology Department needed a "kids' cart with toys, stickers and other things of comfort" for those kids who, unlike Emmy, don't necessarily enjoy coming to Mayo Clinic or having their eyes checked. Emmy set out to make that happen one cup of lemonade at a time.
And we're told her ophthalmologist, and best buddy, couldn't be prouder. "I sent Dr. Bothun an email after we made the donation, and he was over-the-moon excited," Cassie tells us. "He thought it was the most amazing thing, which was super fun for us and for Emmy."
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