The spunky 9-year old took a long sip from her straw. The golden-colored brew in her cup made its way up to her lips and produced a smile.
“It’s so good,” said Avery Ranieri, through her grin.
Then she went back for more of her Earl Grey lavender lemonade.
Avery, her mom, Melissa, and little brother, Evan, sat back and enjoyed the morning beverage inside the posh TeBella Tea Company. Dozens of large canisters brimming with dried teas lined the walls. The smell of steeping teas couldn’t be ignored.
This is the site of Avery’s big weekend plans.
“Avery had big goals, and I’m very proud to see how much people have really encouraged her,” Melissa said.
On Saturday, Avery will return to the Davis Islands shop with the hopes of raising $2,000 for the nearby Tampa General Hospital. It’s a place that has taken a special place in the Ranieris hearts the last six years.
“I just believe in Avery and I even hesitate to even put an estimate on what she can raise because I think she’s going to knock it out of the park,” said Jocelyn Lister, who is the Annual Giving Officer at TGH.
Lister set up a business meeting with Avery a few weeks ago shortly after the 9-year old asked her mom how she could donate the $20 in her piggy bank to kids at the hospital.
Six years ago, Melissa, then-pregnant, was told some startling news.
“We found out in utero that (Evan) would be born with Stage 4 kidney disease,” she said. “We knew inevitably he would need a kidney transplant.”
By his first birthday, Evan had entered kidney failure. In May 2013, Melissa donated her kidney to her son. The last six years, the family has been in and out of the hospital, sometimes weekly.
Avery noticed how the medical strain was impacting her family. That’s where the impulse to give back to the hospital originated.
“I think she learned a lot of compassion,” said Melissa. “Avery has a big heart.”
The lemonade fundraiser will take place at the TeBella location at 227 E. Davis Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Any lavender lemonade sales during the weekend will also be donated to TGH. Avery specifically requested that the money be given to the Children’s Medical Center.
“I remember us being in the hospital a lot and going through dialysis,” she said. “Kids in the hospital aren’t always happy. They can go through scary things. It can hurt them.”
Maybe lemonade can help start some healing.
“Evan was my inspiration,” she said with a smile.
You can donate here. Click the Children's Medical Center's Avery's Cups of Kindness distinction and the money will be sent directly to the appropriate TGH fund.