By Sara Battaglia
Local 9-year-old Leonora Brandt has a rare genetic disorder called panhypopituitarism as well as a Chiari malformation, but this hasn’t stopped her from wanting to make a difference in the lives of other kids. At just 8 years old, she made her first lemonade stand, fundraising over $3,000 to get toys for children in hospitals.
Brandt said, “I wanted to start the lemonade stand because I know how boring hospitals can be and I don’t want any kids that have to be there to be bored.”
The toys were donated to Lakeland Regional Health, and she plans the next drop-off to be at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Also, she now creates shirts, bracelets and stickers with her favorite line, “Happy is Best.” Her next big plan is to create a cookbook full of recipes that make others happy.
Her mom, Elysia, said, “Any recipes — from anybody. We’ve been doing Zoom calls and baking or cooking with whoever. … It helps with Brandt’s OT and is what she loves to do.”
The family lives in Lakeland but is partnering with Brandon area nonprofit, Dancing for a Difference, as a drop-off location for toys and hosted a lemonade stand at the studio’s recent recital. The community can help by donating toys, supporting Brandt’s lemonade stand, purchasing shirts, helping with recipes or donating monetarily. Her mom said they are planning a date for her upcoming lemonade stand fundraiser soon. Brandt was also interviewed by Special Books by Special Kids, a very popular YouTube channel. Brandt and her mother have a heart for helping others.
“I just want to see Leonora’s dream of blessing children to continue to come true,” said Elysia.
Brandt’s mom also has plans to open a salon geared towards families with special needs in the near future. For more information on Brandt and her upcoming fundraisers and adventures visit their Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/growingleonora/.