Lemonade fund raiser earns Chilliwack council’s applause

Nine-year-old Kai Manning earns mayor's certificate of recognition for cancer fundraising efforts.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz presents nine-year-old Kai Manning with a certificate from the City of Chilliwack on Tuesday for his fundraising efforts for B.C. Children's Hospital.

A young man in Chilliwack received an honour that he’s sure to tell his grandkids about decades later.

Kai Manning was awarded a certificate of recognition from city hall on Tuesday. The nine-year-old captured the town’s heart last month when he started selling lemonade to raise money for children with cancer at BC Children’s Hospital. Kai’s father, Bob Manning, passed away to the disease a few years ago.

“I don’t want other kids and families to feel the same way,” Kai told the Progress on Aug. 8 when he had the lemonade stand open.

As people pulled up to his house with bills, Kai ended up collecting a grand total of $4,250 for the hospital.

Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz learned of the story through Facebook, where local RCMP Cst. Kevin Morris posted a heartfelt plea to the community to support Manning. The post started with, ‘Have you ever had a moment when your heart sank, and you knew you had to do something?’

“When that arrived on my Facebook page, I thought about it for a while, and it started to be reposted all over the place,” said Gaetz, who maintains an active presence online.

She watched as residents from across town threw their weight behind Kai to help him sell some lemonade.

“And I think Kai — probably beyond his wildest expectations — had to make a whole lot of lemonade,” said Gaetz. “And I watched the whole community come together, Kai. And I thought, ‘I want to honour Kai here today.'”

While other kids were having fun on a summer day, Kai was busy fundraising.

“I know that you lost your dad, and that was very tough for you,” Gaetz told him on Tuesday. “And it made you very aware that other people are going through the very same kind of sadness and loss. And I love that you didn’t want that to happen to anybody else. I think you’re wise beyond your years.”

Gaetz presented a certificate to Kai, which reads: ‘The certificate of recognition, Kai Manning, on behalf of the City of Chilliwack. Thank you for your selfless and compassionate efforts to raise funds for children with cancer.’

Gaetz further assured Kai that city hall doesn’t “just give these to anybody,” so Kai is “very, very special.”

“I know it probably doesn’t mean a whole lot to you to just get a piece of paper from city hall, but you know when you get older, and you show your grandkids, they’re going to think you’re pretty hot stuff that you got this from that old lady at council,” Gaetz said.

Kai was too shy at Tuesday’s city council meeting to explain why he did what he did, despite a personal invitation from the mayor. But he did mention his biggest contribution in his thank you speech.

“My biggest donation was from a guy who just came, he was the first one to come on the fifth day. He gave me $200 for nothing,” said Kai.

akonevski@theprogress.com
twitter.com/alinakonevski

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