Zack’s Shack: Utah boy’s lemonade stand sends wheelchairs to developing countries

Eleven-year-old Zack Francom's lemonade stands are changing lives.

Since 2010, the Provo, Utah, boy has been selling cookies and lemonade at his annual Zack's Shack to buy wheelchairs for people in developing countries.

Thanks to the outpouring of local support — hundreds of people line up outside of his house each April — he's been able to provide more than 300 wheelchairs to people who would otherwise go without.

"Nobody who needs a wheelchair should have to go without one just because they can't afford it," Zack told People magazine.

I know he is special and has been put here to do big things. Our job as parents is to support him in what he wants to accomplish. What parent wouldn't do all they could?
—Nancy Bird, Zack's mother

It all started in 2010, when Zack's school held a fundraiser to buy an $86 wheelchair for the Mormon charity, LDS Philanthropies. Then just 6 years old, Zack wanted to do more.

"I decided that I wanted to raise enough to buy one all by myself," Zack said.

"I thought, 'What if I couldn't walk or run or ride my bike? What would that be like?' I wanted to help make life easier for somebody who couldn't walk or run and didn't have money for a wheelchair to help them get around."

With his help of his parents, Zack held a lemonade stand — and was able to cover the cost of a wheelchair on his own.

"Zack has the kindest heart of any 10-year-old boy I've ever met," his mom, Nancy Bird, told the Daily Herald in April. "He really believes in providing wheelchairs for those who can't afford it. I know he is special and has been put here to do big things. Our job as parents is to support him in what he wants to accomplish. What parent wouldn't do all they could?"

Last year, Zack's Shack was awarded a $25,000 grant from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program.

This spring alone, Zack sold 350 dozen cookies — baked by his mom — and 80 quarts of lemonade, raising $5,3000. With basic models now costing $143, he was able to buy 37 wheelchairs to ship to Guatemala, Guam and other countries where the cost of a wheelchair is often the equivalent of more than a year's wages.

"Zack's greatest gift is that he is changing lives — not only his, and his family's — but many others," Glen Evans, donor liaison with LDS Philanthropies, told the Daily Herald. "And he has done that in the context of giving wheelchair-related mobility to others in the process."

"There was one lady in Guatemala who crawled for 10 miles with her baby on her back to pick up her wheelchair," said Bird.

"What a dramatic change it has made in her life," she said. "Stories like this are what keep Zack going."

Zack hopes that other kids will launch similar lemonade stands across the country.

And in the future, the budding philanthropist plans to not only buy the wheelchairs, but deliver them, too.

"My goal is to fly around the world someday and hand out the wheelchairs," he told People.

(Photots via Facebook/Zack's Shack/Mikki Platt)