BERLIN, Conn. (WTNH) — An amazing teen in Berlin who has faced tremendous challenges runs a charitable venture that’s helping those with ALS.
“She has been a fighter since day one,” said Christine Cleland of her daughter, Ava.
When the 13-year-old was very young, she wasn’t hitting developmental milestones. Then, she was diagnosed with ataxic cerebral palsy.
“She wasn’t supposed to walk or talk, apparently. That’s what they told us – that there was a really good chance that she wouldn’t,” Cleland said.
But Ava defied the odds.
Now, this joyful teen not only walks, talks and plays baseball, but she’s also the face of a charitable venture that’s gotten a lot of support.
“When the Berlin Fair comes to town, we can’t get out of our driveway, and I thought, ‘Ava should have a lemonade stand at the end of the driveway,'” explains Ava’s aunt, Lisa DeSeno.
So, in 2021, DeSeno took an old changing table out of the basement and transformed it into a way to raise money for patients at Connecticut Children’s, the hospital that has helped Ava so much.
But tragedy struck this Berlin family, and now the mission is evolving.
“My husband was diagnosed with ALS. It was a very long but short battle,” Cleland said.
Ava’s dad passed away about a year ago.
“It was challenging, and it changed our family forever. We miss him every day,” Deseno said.
So, now, Ava will sell her lemonade at events sponsored by ALS United Connecticut. She recently raised funds for patients suffering from the devastating disease at a walk in Westport.
“It’s definitely helping her through the whole grieving process as well, giving back,” Cleland said.
Ava received a proclamation from the mayor of Berlin, recognizing her incredible work.
Believe it or not, this might be the beginning of Ava’s incredible story.
“We’re open to all charities because Ava can change the world,” DeSeno said.
So far, Ava has raised $6,000 and dreams of selling her lemonade in stores and markets, with the proceeds going to help others.
Click here to learn more about Ava’s Lemonade Stand.