Eight years ago, Leroy Hayward III came into the world with all sorts of challenges, some of which he hasn’t fully overcome. But Children’s Hospital in New Orleans brought him a long way, and the Haywards have decided to pay the hospital back.
One glass of lemonade at a time.
In 2011, Leroy’s parents, Sherilyn and Leroy Hayward Jr., of Baton Rouge, started a business, Leroy’s Lipsmack’n Lemonade. They donate some of the profits to Children’s Hospital and Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, where Leroy also has received treatment. They donated $1,000 last year, a total they hope to double this year, and grow from there.
“We want him to have a business to where if Children’s Hospital needs something, Leroy will be able to say, ‘What do you need?’” Sherilyn Hayward said. “That’s just how much they have meant to us. He’s still a Children’s Hospital baby.”
Leroy was born prematurely and spent nearly five months at Woman’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with a variety of issues, and low muscle tone hampered his development after he was discharged. Doctors at Children’s Hospital also discovered a problem with his pituitary gland that stunted his growth and prescribed growth hormones he still takes.
When Leroy’s speech wasn’t developing properly at age 4, Children’s Hospital discovered that hearing loss was the culprit. Leroy now wears hearing aids in both ears.
“He is coming up to speed now,” Sherilyn Hayward said. “We just have to work with him. That’s the only way he’s going to catch up. He can’t hear some consonant sounds. If there is background noise, he may not hear you at all.”
In 2011, the Haywards attended a Lemonade Day event, a nonprofit launched in 2010 by entrepreneur John Georges, CEO of Georges Enterprises and owner of The Advocate, and Todd Graves, CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers.
The event was designed to introduce children to entrepreneurship through starting their own lemonade stand business.
“This is a great program, because they teach them how to give back,” Sherilyn Hayward said. “We thought this was a good way to give back to Children’s. They helped him just tremendously.”
Leroy kept returning to the annual Lemonade Days and won the taste contest last year.
He received encouragement from chef Chris Wadsworth, whose Triumph Kitchen teaches culinary arts and life skills to young, aspiring chefs.
Although Leroy’s Lipsmack’n Lemonade (firstname.lastname@example.org) seeks to cater events year-round, warm weather is when it goes outdoors — to the Haywards’ front yard most weekends, and to heavily trafficked events when the opportunity arises.
Sometimes, the Haywards are allowed to set up their lemonade stand at Wal-Mart’s Siegen Lane location, and they’ve sold at the Baton Rouge Blues Festival.
While Leroy is the owner, his parents are hardworking employees. On a recent Saturday at Wal-Mart, Sherilyn Hayward used a megaphone to encourage passing shoppers to purchase $2 glasses of lemonade. A good day at the store can raise about $250, she said, about $100 more than they might expect to get from their front-yard stand.
The lemonade recipe is a business secret, except that it’s fresh-squeezed, she said.
“Made with love,” added Leroy Hayward Jr.