Farmington teen wins state philanthropy award
FARMINGTON — A Farmington teenager recently won a state philanthropy award for raising more than $17,500 over six years from her lemonade stand for cancer research.
Earlier this month, Farmington High School sophomore Keely Stockham was presented with the Outstanding Teen in Philanthropy Award from the New Mexico Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. A ceremony was held on National Philanthropy Day on Nov. 2 in Albuquerque.
"When I first started the lemonade stand, I didn’t expect it to get recognition," said the 15-year-old. "I never expected to get any praise for it. I just wanted to make a difference."
Stockham started the lemonade stand in 2010 after her aunt, Jenny Lee Jones, was diagnosed with leukemia. Shortly after, the teenager's mother, Elizabeth Stockham, donated her bone marrow to Jones.
"I decided I didn’t want anyone else to go through what my aunt went through," Stockham said.
Stockham chose to donated proceeds from the lemonade stand to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of San Juan County.
On the day she opened the stand in July 2010, a small number of visitors purchased 50-cent cups of lemonade outside Stockham's home on North Orchard Avenue.
That low turnout made her realize she needed to spread the word about the lemonade stand. She told friends about the stand, and her parents sent emails and posted on Facebook about the fundraiser. Stockham has also been interviewed by a Farmington radio station, and The Daily Times wrote about her efforts.
Since that first fundraiser, several businesses, organizations and community members have donated each year to Stockham's lemonade stand. She has also enlisted help from her friends and relatives over the years to run the stand.
In 2014, the lemonade stand raised its largest amount to date, $4,585.
"We’re very proud of her," Elizabeth Stockham said of her daughter. "We’ve never seen a child with such determination."
The teen has operated the lemonade stand at her home until last year, when the Dental Studio at 2401 E. 30th St. allowed Stockham to operate the fundraiser in its parking lot. She raised $3,701 in three days.
This summer, Stockham did not run a lemonade stand because she was enrolled in summer course. But she was still able to raise $500 through donations.
It was Stockham's work with the lemonade stand that led Farmington High teacher Erin Gockel to seek her out to form the school’s Key Club.
Gockel taught Stockham in sixth and eighth grades at Tibbetts Middle School and remembered her as a responsible and motivated leader. Stockham was also president of the National Junior Honor Society when she was in eighth grade.
"I saw her leadership skills blossom," Gockel said.
As Key Club president, Stockham leads the club’s meeting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday before school starts. She has helped organize the club's year-long project, which involves members volunteering at ECHO Food Bank on Tuesday afternoons.
"I think (the lemonade stand) started me on a path of wanting to give as much time to my community," Stockham said.
Stockham said she plans to continue operating the lemonade stand until she graduates high school and leaves for college. She then plans to pass down the lemonade stand to a fellow volunteer, fourth grader Lauren Anderson.
"I realize that Lauren is going to be the one that takes it because she really likes to help out and really wants to do it," Stockham said.
Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.