When life handed eight-year old Abby lemons, she turned them into her dream kayak.

Abby grew too big to fit into her kayak, and her parents told her that she would need to help contribute toward a new boat. Abby took their words to heart and started a lemonade stand to earn money to buy a new kayak.

I met Abby a little over a month ago when I stopped by the lemonade stand she set up near the Cheoah River.

I was so moved to see a little girl chase her dreams, her eyes wide and full of hope, that I went home and spent a Saturday night writing a blog post about Abby and her plan to turn lemons into a new pink Dagger Axiom.

abby new boat

Blue Ridge Outdoors readers responded, rallying for a little girl with a big dream. Momentum built and news of Abby and her lemonade stand reached the good folks at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (“NOC”) and Dagger.

Chris Hipgrave from NOC, reached out and told me that NOC was partnering with Dagger to make Abby’s dream of a new kayak come true. He said, “There are so many parts of this story that I think are really cool, from a kid that saw something she really wanted and set out to get it to parents giving her a really valuable life lesson.”

Last Thursday at a surprise party at NOC, female pro paddler Adriene Levknecht presented Abby with a custom made pink Axiom Dagger and helped her outfit it. Abby’s entire family attended, including her ninety-three year old grandfather.

Abby was so surprised by the gift that she actually pulled her dad aside and asked him if he had brought the money she earned from selling lemonade so she could pay for the boat.

One of the instructors who volunteers with the Nantahala Racing Club (“NRC”) to teach aspiring young paddlers, Kesha Thompson, said, “I think it is the first time I have seen Abby speechless.”

Afterwards Abby brought her new boat to the NRC’s after school kayaking session. After the river session, Abby celebrated her birthday with her kayaking buddies, building sand castles and eating cupcakes with blue and red swirled icing along the river’s edge.

According to her dad, Abby hasn’t stopped talking about her new boat. “She let us know that her boat WAS NOT going to stay in the garage with mine, but that it was going to hang on the wall in her bedroom. But not too high so she could get it down and go paddling.”13662405_10153691774823038_1369691141_oAbby also informed her parents that this boat would never be sold and if she has a little girl someday she’ll let her use it.

Her dad sent me an email. “To say she loves the boat would be an understatement. It is so awesome.”  He thanked me for writing the initial story about Abby.

But really I’m the lucky one. In a world too often consumed by negativity and defeatist views, Abby reminded us that there is another way.

An eight -year old showed the world that dreams come true when we believe more in hard work than in doubt. She taught us to look at every lemon with a big-heart and seek possibility.

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