Because You Cared: High River boy raises funds in mom’s memory

Lemonade stand proceeds help expand High River Cancer Centre

Tate Barton, 9, completes another sale at his lemonade stand on the Little Britches Rodeo parade route in High River. His business has raised tens of thousands of dollars for cancer care in his town.

The sign on Tate Barton’s stand reads: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

And that’s exactly what the nine-year-old High River boy has done since his mother, Jill, succumbed to cancer in the fall of 2013.

Jill’s death inspired Tate to start selling lemonade at the town’s annual Little Britches Rodeo parade. Proceeds went to the High River District Health Care Foundation for its campaign to expand the High River Cancer Centre, where Jill received her treatment.

The new cancer centre, four times its original size, opened last September — and the $1.6-million project was partially funded with $26,000 raised by Tate during the first three years of running his lemonade stand.

“I am happy there’s a new (cancer centre) — and bigger,” says Tate after raising another $9,000 during this year’s parade. (Alberta Health Services was there and captured Tate at work for the latest Because You Cared video.)

The town of 13,500 people – located about 70 km south of Calgary – has embraced the Barton family and Tate’s fundraising efforts.

Tate’s father, Jamie Barton, remembers when his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.

“It rippled through the community quickly,” Jamie recalls. “Instantly, organizations were putting plans in place to make sure we were fed – (and helped with) all these other things” including house repairs following the 2013 southern Alberta floods. “It was astounding.”

By 2013, Jill’s cancer had spread to her bones and lungs, and it was terminal.

“She gave us some very strong direction on what we needed to do and it was to give back to the community,” Jamie says. “It was to try to stop cancer in its tracks, somehow, some way. And I think that’s probably where the idea of giving back through Tate’s lemonade started.”

Tate had a goal of raising $100 in his first year; he raised $3,800.

The next year he wanted to raise $200; he raised more than $8,000.

And last year, Tate raised $14,500.

The community, Jamie says, “has latched onto the idea and wants to help promote the idea. The next piece is coming out and supporting and, this year, it was pretty astounding how many people came and donated.”

Tate plans to run the lemonade stand until he’s 18 years old, and wants to raise a total of $250,000 to support cancer programs and services.

“I didn’t know what Tate was ultimately going to do with his lemonade stand,” says Jamie, “but I knew it had to do something to give back to the community.

“Giving back is just part of what we have to do now; part of what Jill asked us to do.”