At just seven years old Michael James saved up his weekly allowance and set up a lemonade stand to fundraise for Markham Stouffville Hospital.

Fast forward five years and this young budding philanthropist has raised a total of $22,000 for the hospital. This year alone, Michael raised a record-breaking $7,000 from his annual Mike’s Love Lemonade. The event has grown to sell much more than just lemonade. Michael begins to prepare weeks in advance by baking goodies, cooking up fresh pizzas, assisting in the garden to sell plants and delivering posters to neighbours.

The soon-to-be grade eight student at Franklin Street Public School started fundraising for his local hospital when he found out that some of his classmates were sick.

“I wanted to figure out a way to help them out,” said Michael.  “I am lucky to be fine and healthy, but there are so many people who aren’t. I realized I could help them by giving money to the hospital, so they could feel better.”

He was also born at Markham Stouffville Hospital and understands the need to support healthcare in his local community. His passion and dedication for supporting those in need have rubbed off on his friends, family, and neighbours, too. His two older sisters Delana and Alyssa help with the planning and sales for the annual event and several members of their extended family join in.

It’s no surprise that he was the recipient of the Citizens of Character 2017 Award in the Elementary Division at the York Region Character Community Awards earlier this year. The award is defined by the winner’s ability to show leadership and consistently demonstrate compassion, courage, initiative, and responsibility among other attributes.

“He is just a typical boy with a big heart,” said his mother Shameeza James. “He loves to give back and help others.”

To learn how to get involved and host your own fundraising event visit: www.mshf.on.ca/get-involved