Amazing Grace Lemonade Race is Saturday in Ames, has raised $109,000 for Blank Children's Hospital

Ronna Faaborg
Ames Tribune
Sixteen-year-old Grace McCunn of Ames is the founder of the Amazing Grace Lemonade Race, which will be held at Ada Hayden Park on Saturday. Proceeds from the 6th annual race will be donated to Blank Children's Hospital's Pediatric Oncology and Blood Disorders Unit.

The Amazing Grace Lemonade Race started when Grace McCunn, then an Ames fifth-grader, held an actual lemonade stand on the corner of her street.

It’s grown to be a 5-kilometer race, now in its sixth year, and has raised more than $109,000 for Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

The race will be held Saturday at Ada Hayden Park in Ames, with a kids’ fun run at 7:30 a.m. and a 5k run/walk at 8 a.m. The kids’ run is $25 and the 5k is $40.

McCunn, now 16 and a senior at Ames High, started the event to give back to the hospital that treated her.

“Around fifth grade, I started getting migraines pretty bad,” McCunn said. “I was in and out of the hospital down at Blank. I just wanted to do something to give back to the patients and the doctors and the nurses. They treated me very well there, and I appreciated their help.”

She started the lemonade stand, charging 25 cents a glass. Two years later, she started holding the race.

“It kind of just grew with that lemonade stand,” she said. “It’s really amazing, really cool to look back and see everything that has happened in the past six years since I started the race.”

Grace McCunn, founder of Amazing Grace Lemonade Race, poses with Gerald Shane, a 9-year-old fifth-grader at Gilbert. He was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma in June 2020 and is now in remission. Shane is an example of why McCunn is donating this year's race proceeds to Blank Children's Hospital's Pediatric Oncology and Blood Disorders Unit.

The race last year saw about 200 runners, and McCunn hopes for a similar turnout this year.

Signup can be done ahead of time or the morning of the race.

Each year, the money raised goes to a different section of Blank hospital.

“I decided this year the proceeds will be given to the Pediatric Oncology Department at Blank Children’s Hospital. I’ve met with kids who have dealt with cancer in the past. It hits me hard when I talk to these kids who are battling childhood cancer, and I wanted to do something to help them," McCunn said.

“It’s every parent’s nightmare to hear the words: Your child has cancer. I really wanted to do something to help the parents and the patients feel more at home at Blank in that unit.”

Three families with children who are currently in remission and stayed at Blank for their treatments will be coming to the race.

The lemonade part of the festivities is taken care of with drinks donated by Chick fil A. Insomnia Cookies will be on hand to provide treats.

The sixth annual Amazing Grace Lemonade Race will be held Saturday at Ada Hayden Park in Ames.

Players from the Iowa State women’s basketball, men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams will attend.

“Some people really love to meet the players,” McCunn said. “It’s a lot of fun to have them there.

“People don’t have to run, they can walk or just come out and watch and support everyone,” she added.

How to connect with Amazing Grace Lemonade Race

  • Facebook: @thelemonaderace
  • Instagram: @thelemonaderace
  • Venmo: @Grace-McCunn
  • Email: grace.lemonaderace@gmail.com
  • To donate by mail: Amazing Grace Lemonade Race, 1623 Reagan, Ames, IA  50010
  • To donate directly to Blank: Blank Children’s Hospital and tag Grace McCunn, 1415 Woodland Ave., Suite 200, Des Moines, IA  50309