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COLUMN: 9-year-old's philanthropic streak to help other children should inspire others

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Posted at 7:10 PM, Jul 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 19:34:04-04

In my almost 30 years in the TV news business, I’ve covered everything from pre-schoolers to presidents. When you report, you don’t always have control over what you’re called on to become “expert in” for the day. You go where the news takes you. The spur-of-the-moment nature of it teaches you to be nimble, and to be a sponge. But there isn’t a lot of time to craft a story in those tough deadline moments. That’s one reason I love “Positively Cincinnati.” I have the time to spend on it, and I get to choose the stories.

This week I’m re-introducing you to Payton Obert. She is a nine-year-old on a mission to help other kids.

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The philanthropy bug bit her when she was just six. That’s when she saw a lemonade stand, and decided she wanted to do one, too, with a twist: The money would go to help patients at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. It was the beginning of what’s become a Tri-State effort involving lots of other kids now. In fact, Payton’s Lemonade Stand is its own non-profit. You’ll find more on that in the video story attached to this column.

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Speaking of this column, I’m writing it because I want to share the story behind the story. When I met Payton over Zoom at the height of Covid, she and her kid sister, Presley, were planning the annual lemonade stand. They told me about all the precautions they were taking to keep a virus at bay while they worked to raise money to purchase toys for kids.

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Not only did they pull it off, but they also grew their crew, and raised more than $35,000. That’s why I went to Colerain Township to interview Payton again – I wanted to see where she and her family are taking the stand. And I wanted to meet her in person.

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On her continuing effort, she told me, “It’s just so amazing. There are no words to describe how happy I am.”

Those words took me back to my own childhood. I never had a lemonade stand that raked in thousands and thousands of dollars for other kids. But I did have goals that drove me.

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The picture I’ve included was one of them. I was six years old – the same age as Payton when she got her big start. My motivator was cookies. I wanted to sell 250 boxes to get a Girl Scouts patch. My parents encouraged me to go after it on my own in creative ways, and it became the first fairly independent achievement of my life - forever captured in a newspaper article that I’ve kept to this day.

Those things we do as children are the things that shape us. I hope watching Payton’s story takes you down your own memory lane to a time when you discovered your own capacity to achieve and make a difference. And I hope that makes you smile, like it made me smile.

Payton's Lemonade Stand

And in case you didn’t know – look for Payton’s Lemonade Stand August 7th!