Kids with disabilities have tremendous potential to contribute to our communities. There’s no better way to illustrate this than to just talk to one of those kids themselves, and that’s why I was so excited to talk to Addie Loerzel, a 15-year-old with a disability who has already accomplished so much in her young life.
Addie has spent the past few years raising money for the Sunshine Foundation by selling cupcakes. And she is killing it! So far, Addie has raised nearly $80,000 (!) and she’s looking to expand her efforts even more. She is also a beauty pageant winner who currently wears the Princess of America Miss Minnesota crown. This was her first pageant that wasn’t specifically for girls with disabilities, so her win was really important in increasing visibility of kids like her.
Plus, she’s an accomplished public speaker who advocates frequently for her community.
It was really exciting to me to talk to Addie about how she has been so successful at such a young age. Addie is a youth leader worth following!
Welcome to the Good Things In Life podcast. I'm Genia Stephen. Today, I'm thrilled to have Addie Loerzel on the podcast. Addie is 15 years old. She lives in Morehead, Minnesota. Addie has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair and doesn't let that slower down. And I've invited Addie onto the podcast to talk about some of her achievements and accomplishments and her dreams for her life. Addie, thank you so, so much for joining me on the podcast today.
Thank you for having me.
So Addie, you know, often in the bios, uh, when I'm interviewing somebody, I listed people's accomplishments, but I'm really would like for you to kind of list your own accomplishments and they're significant you know, So, let's start, let's start by talking about, um, your fundraising efforts over the years. So I understand that you fundraise with, uh, um, by holding or hosting a cupcake stand.
Correct? I have a cookie extent every summer to raise money for the Sunshine Foundation, um, to make kids' dreams come true. There have been, um, they have disabilities, have been abused or, um, have some sort of illness, um, the, um, kind of, you know, feel, feel better.
That's awesome. And how much money have you raised for the Sunshine Foundation?
Um, it doesn't even 80,000.
$80,000 in fundraising for cupcakes. Those must be spectacular cupcakes. And how many, how many years have you done this?
Um, it, 8 years.
Okay. That's that's great.
Started in 2013.
When, where do you, uh, where is your cupcake stand? Like that's a lot of money to raise.
Yeah. Um, my cupcake stand has been like at banks and, and her, it, it has been well, well last year because of Coronavirus, um, prop propsfield school in, or there south of us in our house. Um, and then we have this drive through.
Okay, cool. So is that a con that's a community near you? Oh, yes. Yep. And so did you start, do you make all of your own cupcakes?
Uh, no. Uh, one of our, one of our friends has a student that has done it before.
That's great. So it's a collaboration. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. Um, I can imagine myself engaging in some sort of fundraising efforts, but not making as many cupcakes as would be required to raise that kind of raise that kind of money. So that's awesome. And why do you do this year over year? I guess it's gotta be a lot of work.
Um, it is, but it's more like I, um, gotta get more, we have to have like more kids that are more in like the waiting list, wait lists for them to come to have their dreams come true. And then to move up the list.
Right. Yeah. So you've got a pretty passionate commitment to, uh, making an impact in the contribution in your community. Yes, that's great. And what made you decide that this organization, that the Sunshine Foundation was the organization that you wanted to raise money for?
Oh, yeah. Um, okay. Excuse me, answer. Um, so when I was seven, I got my dream come true to Disney world and I got to meet all the princesses. And then I thought, huh. Um, maybe it would be a good idea to, um, help these people out that made my dream come true. So I started off, which is a mini cupcake stand on the edge of my side. Um, edge of my block and then it slowly got bigger and bigger and bigger, bigger, bigger
Each year. So how many cupcakes did you, I mean, just in general, I'm sure you don't remember, or at least if it was me, I wouldn't remember. How many cupcakes you sold that first year at the end of your block versus the, the kind of size of your, of your fundraiser this coming year.
The first, the first thing the first year. Um, a hundred, maybe,
Yeah. And now,
Um, three, 3000.
Oh my goodness. Wow. That, that is amazing. Okay. So who, so you've got a friend who bakes the cupcakes like this has to be, um, um, you're with your leadership. I know this is your fundraiser. With your leadership though, you've got to be leading a team to be able to make, to sell 3000 cupcakes in a season. So can you tell me your team, like you've got this, you've obviously connected with several people in your community to make this happen. And I would just love to hear about that, about those connections in that team.
Oh, of course. Um, so Hannah, um, the friend that makes the cupcakes, um, she always makes those from scratch. And so, so it takes a lot of baking and kind of a couple of days to do it over overnight, even. Wow. Um, and so, um, they, um, some are her friends come and her mom all come and help. So it wouldn't take so long for all the one pers person. Right. If it was only one person, it will take much longer. And so if it was a group, it would take less days. Great. Of course. Yeah.
And, and what, uh, there's gotta be, so you're, you're at different locations now, which means you're also connecting with, I guess, different businesses in your community. And do you have kind of repeat hosts for your cupcakes stand like businesses in your community that year after year are supporting your fundraising efforts?
Yes. Yeah. The bank bank bank, the bank. Just the bank. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Um, uh, we also, um, but like school, like the day that we did the drive-through cooking stand, it's more like the school props, right. I've been there approach to, uh, sort of deliveries and
Oh yeah. And who’s doing the
Deliveries and stuff, and who's doing your deliveries, um, going to different groups, go into the cars and drive to different locations and Moorhead or West Fargo parking like that. Um, and then we deliver cookies to each business. Okay. Take a picture with them. Right.
So I'm just trying to get a sense of how many people you have either connected with each other or connected to you over the years with this, with your fundraising efforts. Like, it sounds like you now know dozens more people in your community than you would have if you hadn't done this. Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's really remarkable for a 15 year old. It's a remarkable impact, but it's also, um, it's also remarkable to be that well known and well connected in, in your community when you're 15 years old. So that's, that's really impressive. And I wonder, um, if you could tell us a little bit about your competition in beauty pageants. This is, I had to ask you what the words were before we started recording. I was like, you know, how, how do you talk about, I don't even know the language about that you were saying competing. So you can tell that Addie, I know nothing about beauty pageants, so you're going to need to fill me in.
Okay. Okay. Okay. Um, so like my first pageant was, um, only for cross this buildings. And then, um, after that, and a couple of weeks ago I was in this pageant. Um, I was the only one there with the disability. So it was, um, hard because I, um, during my onstage question, I actually knocked down the microphone. Okay. So yeah. Knocked it down. Oh my God. It just pick it back up and then do the onstage question sloppy.
So, um, and you won, you won the pageant. Yeah. So what, um, even though you knocked it on the, with the microphone, I love it. Um, so that was the Miss Amazing. No, the first one was the Miss Amazing pageant that was for girls with disabilities. This was Princess of America, the Princess of America pageant. And so having won the Princess of America pageant, what does that mean? Like, do you have responsibilities or
Yes, you do have a lot of responsibilities. And, um, when you, when can, you can do, um, was spread some, like, do something with your crown. And you'll have to do something instead of like doing nothing, you have to, um, spread like things for the do things or just different charities to do good things because part of Princess of America's like, um, it's, it's all about their motto. Their motto was proud with the cause. Cool. You will have to like, say something that you would do if you won Princess of America Ambassador that's, what's my thing. So, um, during interviews, they kind of ask you, what would you do with the crown if you won? And what I said was to expand my, my lovely cupcake, my cookie stand, make it big, bigger. Um, and so to make them bigger and then I won. And so now here I am,
Hey there, do you find IEPs kind of agonizing? I do. Or at least I did. You can end the AME of navigating IEP by becoming really well-informed about what an excellent curriculum based IEP looks like. We have a free video series, so you can know your stuff, advocate with confidence and ensure your child has supports that they need to succeed at school. You can access it for free, at goodthingsinlife.org/iep. Now let's get back to the show now. Okay. So you've got, so last year you sold 3000 cupcakes and now you've got, um, the responsibility of expanding your cupcake, um, fundraiser because of the, because that's what you're going to do with the crown. So what does that mean? Does that mean that because you have the crown, that the pageant provides some funding for you to, to support your efforts or no,
It's just that you'll have to deal with it. Like more dreams come true.
Right. Okay. So you have to, so you go into the pageant and you basically get the cr, you know, if you win, you get the crown. And then you get to use that sort of status to support whatever efforts, whatever. Cause you're pursuing. Yes. Okay. I understand. Okay. And so what's your goal for this year for your fundraising efforts? Like, do you have, um, like a dollar amount that you're aiming for this year or is it a certain number of cupcakes sold or how do you think about the expansion of your fundraiser?
Um, the expansion, like get like, um, like the, um, dresses of, um, of princesses to, um, make them more like the, um, Disney princess dresses. Because I think I'll look more like it, because some, if they don't, they don't really know the princesses. Um, so we're going to get more of those, um, dresses to give to a girl, um, women who dress up as each princess to make them more like the princess.
Is that part of your marketing? Is that the people who are selling the, the cupcakes are dressed up like Disney princesses? Yes. Okay. Okay. I didn't realize that part. That's that's uh, that's great. And of course this started because you went to Disney through the, through the, um, Sunshine Foundation and got two great. So smart, that's such a, such a smart and strategic marketing approach. That's awesome. Okay. So, all right, so you're going to, so your strategy is going to be, um, to kind of up your game, as far as the costumes of the people that are helping you sell the cupcakes. What's your goal, though? For how much you'll earn for the, or how much you'll raise for the foundation or how many cupcakes she'll sell? Do you have sort of a, like a number that you're shooting for?
Um, I don't know yet.
Okay. All right. Fair enough. Um, so Addie, you're 15 years old, you're already a very accomplished young woman. And I'm curious about what your thoughts or dreams are, you know, you're, you're just in grade nine, you've got your high school years ahead of you. Um, what is, what is your, what, what are you thinking about these days what's coming for you?
Oh, well, I've always wanted to come become a cook, so I'm starting to do that. Um, when I, when I get out of, um, I get out of, uh, high school learn about cooking and stuff cause I wanted, I just always wanted to become a cook and I, um, uh, um, I think could just be a fun career for me.
All right. So culinary school is in your future after high school. And, um,
What about high school? What are you hoping that, you know, you're just in your first year of high? Well, I guess it depends on how your schools are broken up for, for us grade nine is the first year in my community, but you're early, regardless. You're early in your high school, um, career. What are you hoping the high school years will bring for you?
Oh, well, um, my first instinct a bit was it was so much fun to be in the high school. Um, being in the high school, you kind of have to like, who were they? High school? The, the, the ha the school is kind of jammed pack.
Yeah, for sure.
Yeah. Yeah. jam packed, but we're all in a mess because it's all, um, it's mandated in schools. Um, so, um, when we go to is when we get off the bus, we get off the bus. Um, so our day, um, it's all easygoing.
Yeah. It's okay. That's good. It's, it's been such an adjustment for us all with the pandemic and, you know, figuring out how things are going to, you know, lots of changes with school. Are you involved in any extra curriculars in high school? Like, are you doing theater or,
Um, uh, for, um, this, um, in like, um, our classes and stuff like that next quarter, I'm going to be in some class. I don't really know, but I've heard from my teacher, my parents that, that, that the teacher for next quarter is going to be pretty nice.
Oh, that's good. That's great.
Yeah. I mean, it's always so much better when you've got a good teacher. Yeah,
Good. Um, Addie,
I know that you've been doing public speaking, um, about, you know, uh, bout your fundraiser fundraising efforts for sure, but also just in general about, um, you know, life with a disability and, um, you know, so what, what, why are you doing that public speaking? Like, why is that important to you?
Well, um, I'm doing public does public speaking to raise people to be, um, have kids like know that they can accept kid, um, people disabilities for who they are. So if they see someone in a wheelchair, they don't stare, they kind of go over and say, hi, how are you doing? How are you doing? And if they're a kid, they can say, Hey, Hey, you want, we want, do you want me, my friend? And, um, I'm kind of doing that to help kids be, be kinder to, to that. To that, um, um, and to, um, like make a, make the world like a better place, to make people be aware of that they need to become and need to stop fighting and stuff, change the world. You've got, you've got, um,
Pretty high expectations of yourself. Like you're 15, you're 15 years old and you've raised, um, you know, $80,000, uh, for an organization that is, you know, means something to you. And your public speaking to try and raise awareness and, uh, you know, change the change positively the way people treat each other and interact. That's, that's pretty amazing. So the people listening to this podcast, um, are probably parents there, there will be lots of parents, of kids that have disabilities that are listening. There'll be some educators, you know, teachers and paras, and there'll be some psychologists and, you know, physiotherapists and occupational therapists and speech, language therapists. And all, you know, the whole kind of education and family, uh, gamut. And I'm wondering if you have anything sort of anything else that you want to make sure that you say to the audience who's listening?
Oh, I just want to say thank you for listening. Hope you hope this podcast educates you.
Speaker 1 (23:32):
Thanks Addie.. I wonder if you would like to share where people can learn more about your fundraiser and how to support your efforts.
Oh, of course. Um, so I have like a fake Facebook page, um, and I still have like a Instagram page. So Facebook is @addiesroyalcupcakestand, and then my in screens.
Yeah. So the I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna repeat that idea just so, um, we've got it set a couple of times. So it's facebook.com/addiesroyalcupcakestand. And I will make sure that the link to that is in the show notes. So people don't have to try and, you know, rely on their own interpretation and spelling and stuff to find it. So we'll make sure that that's there. Uh, Addie, thank you so, so much for joining me and having this conversation, it's been such a pleasure to meet you, and I really feel, I feel quite honored too, that you agreed to come on the podcast. You're a remarkable person. Um, you know, I'm just really impressed that somebody of your age has such a clear commitment to making a positive difference in the world and that you have managed to accomplish so, so much already in your, you know, pretty brief 15 years. So thank you.
Yes, of course. Thank you for having me on this podcast. It's been a pleasure.
Thanks so much for joining Addie and I, and her mom, Marisa in the background there. So after we finished our interview, Addie told me that she has a website, which will be a place, um, the place to go as opposed to the Facebook group. I mean, you can certainly go to the Facebook pages as well. Addie's new website is addiesroyalcupcakestand.com. And there will be a place on the website for you to donate to the suns Sunshine Foundation, um, if you would like to contribute. When we got, uh, when I stopped recording, Addie said, people are going to listen to this and think this 15 year old is on our role. Which I just thought was fantastic, you know, because Addy's, uh, a wheelchair user. So it was just so great. And I really, really want to thank you again, Addie for coming on the podcast and talking about the work that you're doing, the connections you're building in your community, and thank you for making the world a better place. I hope you'll join me again next week for another episode of the Good Things In Life podcast. Thanks so much. Take care.
Special thanks to Addie Loerzel, and her mom Marisa Loerzel, for joining me this week. Until next time!