Wyatt Dennis started his lemonade stand to earn money for a Lego set. But after two years, it’s become something more: a way to give hope to children all over the country.
In the summer of 2020, Wyatt set up the lemonade stand near his home in Piedmont during the motorcycle rally. He had his heart set on a space center Lego set that would cost around $100, but he offered drinks free of charge, allowing customers to choose if they wanted to donate or not. It turned out thirsty travelers appreciated the gesture; in the first summer Wyatt went through 20 gallons of lemonade and received over $700 in donations.
“That first year, we thought it was a good way for him to put in some hard work and earn something, so the lemonade was free, and then at the end of it his father and I were going to buy the Lego set for him,” Wyatt’s mother, Robin Dennis, explains. “People started donating money, and when he ended up with $700, we realized we needed to have a bigger discussion.”
The Dennis family sat down and discussed earning, saving, and donating money, and came up with a plan. Wyatt would save 50% of his earnings for a college fund, donate 30% to a charity, and keep 20% for spending. It was enough to buy his dream Lego set, but now Wyatt had a new decision to make: what charity to donate to.
“A friend of my mom’s runs to raise money for St. Jude,” Wyatt says, “so I decided to pick them.” The first year, he donated a little over $200 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The next summer, Wyatt set up his lemonade stand with similar expectations from the year before. What he didn’t anticipate was the power of word of mouth. People shared the lemonade stand on social media, and before he knew it, Wyatt had quickly surpassed the previous year’s total. In fact, his stand was so popular that it left his parents searching grocery stores all over the Black Hills to buy more lemonade.
“My mom’s coworkers were sending pictures and asking, ‘Is this your son?’” Wyatt laughs. “We didn’t know what to do. We had people donate lemonade, and my dad’s coworkers stepped in to help too. A lot of people stepped in and we still have a little bit of extra left over.”
Wyatt served so much lemonade last year, he lost count of the gallons. At the end of the rally, he was able to donate $32,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
This year, the Dennis family has expanded the lemonade stand to include merchandise, and has plans to offer baked goods. But for Wyatt, it’s about being able to help those in need. “I think it just makes kids happy, and it makes me happy that I’m making kids happy,” he says.
As the saying goes, what you put into the world will always come back to you. For Wyatt Dennis, that can only mean great things ahead.