Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Epilepsy Walk at the Rose Bowl and the Disappointing Fate of Ollie's Lemonade Stand

Oliver, his friend Mac and The Husband were up past midnight last night, preparing lemonade and chocolate chip cookies for today's End Epilepsy Walk at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. This morning, they rose at 5:30 to pack up the car and drive over there to set it up:

Henry, Sophie and I joined them a few hours later:

Ollie's Lemonade Stand was in full swing when we got there, and some of my favorite people came to support us and Team Sophalofa:

Here's our team:

Here are some random shots:

Here's the Quarterback of UCLA's Bruins -- very cool guy who brought in a ton of money in honor of his sister who has epilepsy:

Here's Oliver with Henry, a seizure dog, courtesy of a canine therapy group that was founded by a high school classmate of mine in Atlanta, Georgia!

So, all was well -- until the unexpected happened. The Health Department showed up and Shut Ollie's Lemonade Stand DOWN for operating without a permit.

Holy crapola, right? And what the hey and WTF?

Oliver was devastated, to tell you the truth. He and his father had worked so hard, and he had hoped to make many hundreds of dollars, a significant portion of which he intended to donate to the Epilepsy Foundation. Yes, we told him how proud we were of him, how this was sort of a lesson in entrepreneurship, how frustrating these things are (it was difficult not to rant and rave against a bullshit government agency, but we didn't. I think at one point, The Husband who is generally quite the ranter and raver, particularly about America, said that the guy was just doing his job). It looked like the whole day was going to be ruined for him -- Oliver is not one to let things roll off his back, and I steeled myself for gloom and doom and sturm und drang. But do you know what that boy did after moaning and groaning a bit? He proceeded to help the Epilepsy Foundation give out the lemonade and chocolate chip cookies for free. Here he is being interviewed as a sibling of a person with epilepsy. I'm not sure where this footage will appear, but I'll keep you posted.

I was in tears and so proud of him.

So, all in all, the lemonade stand was a success in that Oliver learned about starting a business and dealing with the inevitable frustrations that come with entrepreneurship. They also made a good amount of money before the shut-down, and hundreds of people enjoyed the best lemonade and cookies in Los Angeles.

Thank you Craig and Carmen, Lisa, Bridgette, Bob, and Maccabee for coming out to support us. And thanks to all of you who donated so generously. We love you!

If you'd like to donate to Team Sophalofa, it's not too late. Here's the link to help us to END EPILEPSY.


  1. Seriously? They couldn't just look the other way for one day? Grrr! I love that he gave out the goodies, anyway. Glad it was a gorgeous day.

  2. I immediately googled because surely there's some subset of a regulatory code somewhere but instead found "the war against lemonade". WTH? But awesome of him to roll with it.

  3. Oliver is my hero. This made me cry.

  4. Wish we could have been there to stop the shut down but Danny has been really sick for the past 2 days

  5. Such a powerful experience here. Oliver is just taking flight!

  6. Next time, have him make a sign with a "suggested donation". That way, he's not charging and I think maybe the powers that be can't regulate him.
    But golly gee. What a gorgeous day! And Sophie looks so beautiful. Love to all of you. You done good.

  7. So it more of a danger to health when there is a charge for the stuff, than when it is being given away? Would a donation jar with suggested amounts meet code? I'm sorry, Oliver. But, yes, he is a wonderful young man.

  8. I love The Big O and everything about The Big O!

  9. That was a brilliant way to shake it off, keeping to his purpose, without letting the "haterz" stop him - and he DID end up supporting the walk. Rather than donating money, he gave his time, talent and resources directly. I am glad he was interviewed - please post the footage! (I would have been furious, BTW - isn't there a more pressing "crime" in LA than a boy's desire to help raise funds for a cure?!)

  10. P.S. - Sophie looked lovely! I noted the quilt - so happy to see it behind her head!

  11. I'm glad it was a successful day all around! I wonder what the threshold is for requiring a permit -- is it when you begin to charge, or when you serve a certain number of people, or merely when the regulators become aware? For example, is Oliver supposed to have a permit even for a neighborhood lemonade stand? It does seem weird that giving it away, as opposed to selling it, somehow ameliorates any health concerns. Sounds to me like the health department is more concerned about money than anyone's health.

    When I hear stories like this, I can understand where the Tea Partiers get their anti-government streak -- even though, as your husband rightfully pointed out, the guy was just doing his job, and in the grand scheme of things there is a legitimate public health purpose and regulating street food vendors.

  12. That Oliver must be getting some pretty darn good parenting somewhere :) I loved this post and the one about Henry just above. Beautiful boys, both. I love hearing about them.

  13. You have some pretty amazing kids, ya know? I'm glad the day turned out okay for him, and who knows maybe his lemonade stand will be a bigger hit next year because of the publicity he'll get!

  14. Dear Health Dept.: REally?

    Dear Oliver: You win. You really do.



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