PENDLETON, N.Y. — A girl from Pendleton is selling pumpkins and mums at a roadside stand to raise money and give back to Make-A-Wish Western New York, an organization near and dear to her heart.
Lana Stroehlein, 13, a Starpoint 8th grader, takes great pride in her roadside pumpkin stand that she calls the Wish Wagon. She built the red wagon with her dad, and it sits outside of their home at 4253 Beach Ridge Road, in Niagara County. She sells the mums for $8 and pumpkins as marked, and she's giving half the proceeds to Make-A-Wish, because Stroehlein is a former Wish Child herself.
"I wanted to give back because they've done so much for me. I want other kids to experience what I've experienced," Stroehlein said.
Stroehlein was diagnosed with hyperinsulinism at birth and has to monitor her blood sugar at all times.
"It's like type one diabetes, but worse," she explained.
Make-A-Wish sent her on the trip of lifetime in 2018 to meet her idol, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. Stroehlein, a cheerleader with the Elite Heat cheerleading team, even got to tumble with Biles.
"She was so personable, just down to earth and so kind," Stroehlein said of Biles.
Stroehlein's Wish Wagon is just one of many fundraisers she's led to see that other kids have their wishes granted, too. Right now there are more than 300 local kids in the wish pipeline.
"We have more Wish Kids waiting for a wish than we have ever had in the Western New York community so it is crucial that we are raising funds and all of these funds that are raised stay locally," said Bridget Scott, Make-A-Wish Western New York program services associate.
"Nobody wants to be in the position where they need Make-A-Wish's services but when they are in that unimaginable stage and when they do face that critical illness, having an organization like Make-A-Wish being able to support them can make all the difference sometimes. And these families realize that and they realize that other families also need to experience that and that's really what Wish-It-Forward it all about. Lana has gone above and beyond to make sure other kids are getting their wish."
Stroehlein's goal was to raise $200. She surpassed that on the very first day. But, it's not the amount of money she's raised, but her desire to "wish-it-forward" that makes Stroehlein's parents, Meegan and Jim, proud.
"She has a heart of gold. She always has. And her empathy for others is just amazing," said Meegan Stroehlein.
Stroehlein's Wish Wagon will be outside their home — 4253 Beach Ridge Road in Pendleton — through the end of October. Pumpkins and mums are sold on the honor system with a locked box on site for cash donations.
Those wishing to make donations to Make-A-Wish through Stroehlein's fundraising site can click here.
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