8-year-old, Callie Lentz, is finding her purpose after witnessing the tragedy of her friend Ben Towne. At the age of 2, Ben was diagnosed with a form of pediatric cancer called neuroblastoma.
Like most girls, she opened up a lemonade stand to raise money for toys and clothes for the Towne family. When Ben was sick, Callie and her family would often bring food to the family. Although Callie was a very small child during Ben’s year and a half struggle, Callie understood.
Ben died a year later at the age of 3 1/2 years old and it left Callie wondering how she can help out the family. Ben’s parents started the Ben Towne Foundation and it left Callie wondering how she can start a business to help. Ben’s death made Callie think of ways to help prevent other children from suffering from the awful disease.
The Ben Towne Foundation was established to help accelerate cancer research and how it is treated. “In doing this work, we give honor to him,” says Karin Towne, Ben’s mom.
One February afternoon, on a walk with her dad, Ryan Lentz, Callie told her dad, “All adults drink coffee,” she went on to suggest her idea of opening a morning coffee stand, but her dad told her that it couldn’t happen since she had school in the morning. Callie told her dad, “we could sell coffee beans.” Callie said she wanted to give all the profits to the Ben Towne family. The idea of selling coffee beans was formed and the vision was brought into reality.
Callie’s parents Ryan and Mollie started ‘Callie’s Coffee’ and used their own money to start the company. Camano Island Coffee was chosen for the product and friends and family pitched in to help them start a website and Facebook page. It became a family activity and each have their roles. Mollie, the kids’ mother, calls herself the consultant. Callie, who says she “pretty much does everything” is the founder. Callie’s two younger brothers, Robbie, 6 is the chief of labeling officer, and Nick, 4, is the chief shipping officer. Many kids from around the area have been helping to design labels and put them on bags.
The family was excited to start the venture. Only a day after launching, they already had orders and were shipping 130 packages. Callie’s father, Ryan, reported today that Callie’s Coffee has grossed $4,000 in a single day’s earnings. This is huge success for the family, as they ring in the new year with hope and much thanks to all. Ryan choose to move the operation into a warehouse in Bellevue since the operation grew so quickly.
100 percent of all donations go to pediatric cancer research and to increase awareness of the foundation.
“Callie is an inspiration to us and we are amazed by her compassion and generosity,” says Ben’s dad, Jeff Towne. “A rewarding moment is helping Callie to focus her compassion toward fulfilling a charitable goal”, says Callie’s parents.
In the coming months, the Lentz family are planning to take part in some events and sponsorship opportunities to help them get the cause out there. “It’s important to get people to think about the cause and encourage them to get involved”, said Ryan Lentz. “When people see the name Callie’s Coffee I want them to associate it with pediatric cancer and the Ben Towne Foundation,” he said.
The next step for the family is to develop Callie’s Coffee into an enterprise, able to generate revenue for the Ben Towne Foundation. Callie’s dad, Ryan has established a voluntary advisory board of like minded financial, marketing and industry experts to help guide Callie’s coffee through the next stage. They wish to create new products and develop marketing approaches. They are seeking to gain partnerships with school fundraisers and organizations in the coming months and help others raise money for programs and causes.
Callie’s Coffee serves as an example of how empowering and freeing young children can create a ripple effect that produces better members of society at a young and formative age. Callie’s dad says, “Everyone who has come into contact with Callie’s Coffee– children, parents, cancer victims and complete strangers — have been moved both by the little girl who simply asked what she could do to stop the recurrence of the horrible nightmare she witnessed.”
“I am not so sure who is having more fun doing this. Callie or me?” says Callie’s father, Ryan. He says “it’s been a blast for my wife and me to see our kids be a part of something bigger than themselves,” with that being said, “we have learned a lot from them in this process.”
This shows us the power of a charitable purpose and vision that can be held by a young child. Callie’s epic victory has helped many people to cope with struggles and help others overcome by cancer. She has looked past the debilitating condition and gives others purpose; while touching all that come into her path.
The Ben Towne Foundation seeks to save as many children as possible from experiencing the pain that Ben suffered from the disease.
Bags of coffee start at around $12 and can be purchased online at: http://www.calliescoffee.com
Mugs and other merchandise are available for purchase as well.
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