Wyatt Dennis of Sturgis, South Dakota, is a visionary. When he first spotted the view from his family’s soon-to-be home, he had a dream of opening a lemonade stand that all the passing Sturgis Motorcycle Rally participants could frequent.
And he’s just 8 years old.
He started last year with a simple goal: Earn enough money that he could buy a LEGO set.
The donation-only stand accomplished that in one day. So this year, he’s upping the ante with a three-part goal: Save for college, save for a dirt bike and donate to St. Jude’s.
“I want to start with a dirt bike so I can ride it in that pasture over there, but I don’t want to start with a Harley at first,” Wyatt told the Rapid City Journal.
As it stands, 50 percent of what he’s bringing in is going to the college fund, 30 percent is earmarked for the charity and 20 percent is (or was) for that dirt bike.
While the lemonade stand was truly Wyatt’s idea, St. Jude’s has a special meaning to the family as mom Robin is close to the people who run a yearly charity event to benefit the hospital.
“It’s a charity that’s close to my heart,” she said. “When we decided we needed to donate some money, we said [Dennis] could choose where. I think he wanted to donate to kids and so we kind of talked about different charities that had to do with kids and that’s the one he decided on.”
“I wanted to help out the kids and the parents for everything they need,” Wyatt confirmed.
And people have taken notice. The bikers certainly made use of the stop, but local law enforcement and residents have come to support the 8-year-old with big plans, too — and they made a few plans of their own.
“Piedmont’s Wyatt Dennis has been making quite a splash with his free lemonade stand,” the Rapid City Police Department shared on Sunday. “He’s raising money for his college fund and for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital through donations during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. He also mentioned that he’s interested in a dirt bike.
“A couple of local riding groups (Black Hills Riders and South Dakota Sport Bikes) banded together to collect money to surprise him with a dirt bike this afternoon. We were more than honored to help escort the group from Rapid City to Wyatt’s Lemonade stand so they could help a kid with such a big heart. Keep up the great work Wyatt!”
“[We try to teach him] when you reach the point where you have enough to take care of yourself, it’s important to give back,” Robin said, according to the Rapid City Journal.
“The fact that he understands that and embraces that, it makes me proud. It blows my mind a little bit. I’m not sure I understood that as an 8-year-old. It inspires me, too.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.