COLORADO SPRINGS — Setting up a stand and selling lemonade is a classic summer tradition for many kids, but for a group of local athletes, it's how they earned their tickets to attend the Pro Football Camp in Colorado Springs.
The camp kicked off on Tuesday morning at John Venezia Community Park. Prior to the camp kickoff, Maddis and Sayler Nielson who are brothers, were selling lemonade to the community for five days. All the proceeds raised helped them pay for their registration costs to attend the camp, and their fund-raising efforts even got the attention of some of the pros.
"We just put it (everything) in our mom's car and then we bring it out here and then set everything up," said Maddis, 10 years old. "Our parents told us that they'd do 50% off for us, and then me and my brother, we had to raise the other 50%."
The brothers met their goal, but their work didn't stop there. They kept the lemonade stand open to also cover registration costs for their two cousins.
"My mom said, maybe we could give other money to kids in need. If I was one of those kids, I would feel blessed, like knowing kids giving you money for camp, I'd be excited," said Maddis.
Their efforts got the attention of Anthony Trucks, a former Pittsburgh Steelers player, and Michael Lehan, a former Miami Dolphins player. The two athletes surprised the kids on one of the days they were selling lemonade.
"These kids, from what I see, are leading not only by example, but but also for themselves which is cool, because they get the benefit as do the people who get to see them do what they do," said
Trucks. "I got to come out and buy 40 different lemonades and see some kids doing something amazing."
The kids also got the chance to play with the pros and run some drills.
"It felt really good, I can't really explain that. It was a great opportunity to meet them and pass a little," said Maddis.
"I feel really excited, and meeting the pros and stuff and working out with them," said Sayler, 12 years old.
And as for the kid's efforts, selling lemonade and raising money wasn't a drill in the eyes of others.
"They're above and beyond. Those are what we call leaders at the end of the day, we need leaders in life. They say you're raised as a leader or you're born as one, and I think sometimes kids are actually born that way," said Trucks.
The Nielson brothers raised more than $330 and donated all of it to the Scholarship Program to help other kids attend the football camp.
Part of the camp is called "character building" where the athletes share stories of perseverance, responsibility, and overcoming adversity. The athletes hope to teach them qualities of how to be a good person and a leader, and the lemonade stand is a great example of that.
Kids can still register for the camp at 7am on Wednesday morning. This is the 16th annual Pro Football Camp, and this year, the camp has record-breaking numbers of athletes participating. More than 380 kids ages 7-14 years old have signed up.
For more information about the camp, click here.