Girls open lemonade stand to honor late sister and raise awareness for organ donation

Courtesy Monica Madsen

(NEW YORK) — Two girls set up a lemonade stand to raise money for organ donations in honor of their late sister.

Makenzie Madsen was born with congenital heart disease and received a heart transplant at 17 months old. In 2019, her heart and kidneys started shutting down and she was taken to the hospital, where she went into cardiac arrest. She waited there for almost a year for a new heart and kidney transplant when she died on July 13, 2020, at age 14. Now, her sisters, Myleigh, 9, and Makayla, 7, have set up a lemonade stand in her honor.

“We just talked about what we could do because her anniversary is coming up,” the girls’ mother, Monica Madsen, told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

The idea was inspired by Makenzie herself, who would often set up a table and chair outside of their West Jordan, Utah, home to sell everything from baked goods to snow cones while growing up.

“She just loved to bake and cook,” Madsen said. “She even made her own snow cone flavors out of Kool-Aid.”

While she leaned toward making sweets, Madsen said Makenzie didn’t have a sweet tooth or like to eat them.

“I think she just loved interacting with people and seeing people smile,” she said.

The stand’s design is also an ode to Makenzie.

“Teal was our older sister’s favorite color,” Myleigh told GMA. “The other stripe is pink — Makayla’s favorite colors.”

Myleigh and Makayla want to use the stand to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation and how it can save lives.

“They want to open people’s eyes and hope people understand how important it is to say yes to organ donation,” their mother said. “They don’t want other kids to feel this — if their siblings have been waiting for a transplant and they didn’t make it. That’s what they talked to me about.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, around 17 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant in the U.S. The average wait time for one is three to five years and, at the time of publication, the current amount of people on the waitlist for a heart is 3,601. For a kidney, that number soars to 90,567.

So far, the family has raised approximately $6,000 and will be donating all of the proceeds to DonorConnect, a nonprofit organization that assists families in the Mountain West with the organ donation process.

Myleigh said that she and her sister want to “get even more money to help other kids.”

In addition to lemonade, the girls are making cake pops to sell and will also try their hand at cotton candy.

“We’ve just tried to keep her spirit alive,” Madsen said. “She’s up there cheering them on and helping them out and rallying people to go see the stand.”

The family will be wrapping up the lemonade stand for the summer shortly, but plan to continue every year just like they said Makenzie would have.

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