BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Hamburg teenager's annual lemonade stand to raise money for Mercy Hospital's NICU is going virtual this year.
15-year-old Grace Koncikowski became Mercy Hospital's youngest donor ever nearly a decade ago when she gave $75 to the NICU after setting up a lemonade stand.
"That's a lot of money to a 6-year-old," Grace said.
She delivered the donation with a handwritten note saying simply "I had a lemonade sale to help your babies. Love, Grace. P.S. Thanks for taking care of me."
Grace spent six weeks in the Mercy NICU when she was born two months premature. Thanks to the doctors and nurses there, today Grace is a healthy, successful sophomore at Hamburg High School.
"I'm incredibly proud of her," said Grace’s mother, Jeanette Koncikowski. "She's just an all around amazing child that has a big heart that wants to give back to the world."
Grace's lemonade stand became an annual affair, as she made it her mission to pay it forward every year to help other NICU families. To date, she's raised and donated nearly $4,000.
"I don't need all the big, fancy things. I feel that taking care of people in need is much more important," Grace said.
When she makes her donation every year, she also has a reunion of sorts with the hospital staff who are still there after saving her life so many years ago.
"It's really what nursing is all about, to be able to give back and then be able to see a baby grow up and have a beautiful life,” said Mary Ann Murphy, the director of maternal child services at Mercy Hospital. “To make this lovely donation to better the care of our babies, we just really appreciate her."
"It was really an honor to meet them and say thank you for everything they'd done and for helping me and making me who I am today,” Grace said.
Like most things right now, the lemonade stand has gone virtual through a Gofundme page. If you’d like to donate to Grace, which in turn she'll donate to Mercy's NICU, click here.