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Full disclosure: Joshua Smith is my great nephew by marriage. It’s only the beginning of why he is my 9 year old HERO of the year and a great role model for other young boys to follow. A few weeks ago Joshua’s parents, Rhonda and Flynn Smith explained why he couldn’t play in the neighborhood park. Rhonda, who I have known since she was two, reluctantly told her oldest son that the park needed cleaning up, needed the lawn mowed, and that city was broke. Instead of shrugging it off and watching the city sink further into financial despair, Joshua took action. He devised a short term cash flow solution for the city: a lemonade stand. His goal: raise $1000 and give the money to the city of Detroit.
Unlike other lemonade stands that children have devised for countless years across the the world, this one went viral. A week long experiment went viral in a matter of days. Joshua, his two younger brothers and friends pulled out all stops and raised over $3000 in seven short days! Detroit, suburban Detroiters, and even the University of Michigan basketball team reached deep in their pockets, drove to Joshua’s house and gave from their hearts.
Joshua gave ALL of the money to the city of Detroit. He also won a $2000 scholarship for his effort, and a volunteer organization (Detroit Mower Gang), descended on the part, cut the grass and cleaned it up for free.
Every major media outlet in metro Detroit picked up the story. But it gets better! Joshua was featured on CNN, ABC News and Time Magazine, dubbed the “wonder kid.”
He COMPLETELY dispels the stereotype of my hometown. Joshua was born into an intact African American family. His parents are married, live in the city and are deeply religious college graduates. And they LOVE Detroit... so much so that the love came through in the ACTIONS of their 9 year old son.
I am telling everyone I know about Joshua Smith. I hope you will listen to this interview, share it and inspire other children around the world to take positive action even when the stakes are high.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.