From left to right: Danika Potter, 8, her sister Brigit, 10, and her brother, Corbin, 9.
Credits: Dave ThomasToronto Sun/QMI Agency
OSHAWA - Call it a real-life case of turning lemons into lemonade.
A Whitby restaurant has offered to help a nine-year-old autistic Oshawa boy whose lemonade stand was nearly shutdown by a sour neighbour who called police on him this past Canada Day.
The Baton Rouge restaurant will open its doors to Corbin Potter and his siblings and let them sell lemonade to their customers on Aug. 13. All proceeds will go to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
“I appreciate that we can do this,” said Corbin’s mother, Dawn Potter. “We can now turn to Corbin and say, ‘You’re still able to raise money for the hospital that saved your cousins’ lives.”
Corbin’s story was featured earlier this month in the Toronto Sun. His burgeoning lemonade enterprise, which he sets up annually to raise money for Sick Kids, ran afoul of an unidentified female neighbour. That neighbour scolded him for shouting to passersby to advertise the stand, tried to buy him off with $5 and then called the police who tried to shut the stand down because the family didn’t have a permit.
Potter said initially the whole experience left a sour taste in her family’s mouth, but the reaction from people across the GTA has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I was surprised,” she said. “I just expected to write about it on Facebook and that was it. Obviously, it resonates with people.”
Baton Rouge’s business development manager Ryan Grant said he was shocked to read news of Corbin’s lemonade stand troubles. He contacted the paper, hoping to help in some way.
Grant said the Potter kids will accompany servers throughout the restaurant at 25 Consumers Dr. in Whitby. They will offer customers lemonade from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“Everyone is pretty excited about it,” Grant said. “We’ve had donations from staff, our head office and the franchisees are going to match whatever is raised so we can triple up whatever the Potter family can raise.”
Dawn Potter said the family is looking forward to the fundraiser and despite the rough start, this experience has taught her son a valuable lesson, she said.
“Corbin has been so touched, he was almost in tears,” she said. “He’s received cards from people telling him he’s their hero.”