BELLEAIR BLUFFS —The Thorn Collection of Caldwell Banker Residential Real Estate recently held its eighth annual lemonade stand fundraiser for pediatric cancer research, and according to organizers, this year’s event was the biggest to date.

“This is the most people we’ve ever had,” Thorn Collection founder Martha Thorn said as dozens of kids and their families gathered around the tent set up outside the office at 598 Indian Rocks Road on Sept. 24. “It’s a great example of the huge community outreach we have in support of such an important cause.”

Indeed, the turnout was high despite the late afternoon heat, as Ginger Bennett and her 12-year-old daughter, Taylor, oversaw what started as a regular kids’ lemonade stand that has transformed over the years into an impressive fundraising event.

“My daughter wanted a lemonade stand, so my father built it and it started small, like a normal kid’s lemonade stand,” said Bennett, a team manager and listing coordinator for the Thorn Collection. “Then she wanted to do it for a good cause, so we started collecting donations for the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and the event just got bigger and bigger every year.”

According to Bennett, the amount of money raised grew from around $3,000 to more than $40,000 last year during the pandemic, and she said the total amount raised coming into this year was over $135,000.

“It just started doubling every year,” she said of the donations, many of which come from Thorn Collection clients. Bennett noted this year’s event was being held in honor of Jackson Broom, the 4-year-old son of a Thorn client who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor on Feb. 1 and died March 5.

As they watched one car after another pull into Antique Alley and stop at the large, colorful stand, the impact of the gesture was not lost on Jackson’s parents, Jeffrey and Katelyn Broom of Trinity.

“We think it’s a wonderful way to remember Jackson,” Jeffrey Broom said. “We’re not even from around here, so to see this kind of support down here reaffirms to us that we’re not an island. We’re not alone.”

When asked how it felt to see her lemonade stand making an impact on people’s lives, Taylor Bennett said, “I think it’s really crazy. I started it for fun and now I feel really good.”

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