MOORHEAD - Twelve-year-old Addie Loerzel has a smile as sparkly as the sky blue formal gown she wore on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
"It's going great!" she said in the midst of running Addie's Royal Cupcake Stand, her seventh-annual cupcake and lemonade fundraiser for the Sunshine Foundation, a national nonprofit that helps "answer the dreams" of kids who are seriously ill or facing physical challenges.
Her efforts in recent years have drawn plenty of local interest, but also garnered recognition from top officials with the Sunshine Foundation who came to Moorhead on Tuesday to help the cause.
Over the past weekend, with the help of the Dakota Medical Foundation's kitchen, Loerzel's friends and family baked 3,200 cupcakes for charity, baking everything from vanilla and cookie dough sweets to flavors like Oreo, mint chocolate chip and mocha.
Many were delivered to businesses that pre-ordered dessert from the fundraiser, while others were available for a free-will donation Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of First International Bank and Trust, 800 30th Ave. S., in Moorhead.
In addition to cupcakes and lemonade, those who stopped by for the big event were able to get their pictures taken with nearly a dozen dressed-up Disney princesses, including Sleeping Beauty and Merida, who were played by her friends, as well as some local pageant winners.
If a donor was really brave, they could get their picture taken with WDAY 970 AM host Jay Thomas, who agreed to dress like a princess Tuesday while broadcasting his radio show from the event. His tattoos were especially striking against the backdrop of his purple taffeta gown as he brushed strands of long blond wig hair away from his radio headset.
Loerzel's parents, Brian and Marisa Loerzel, seemed to be soaking it all in Tuesday, and said people were lined up in the early afternoon waiting for things to kick off.
"I just love the way this community supports Addie and supports her dream to make more dreams come true," Marisa Lorezel said.
What was first called Addie's Pretty Princess Lemonade Stand was created in 2013 by the then-7-year-old Loerzel, a Moorhead girl with spina bifida who wanted to raise money to help other children enjoy dream vacations like the one she and her family previously received from the Sunshine Foundation.
Loerzel has so impressed the wish-granting charity that Sunshine Foundation President Kate Sample flew from Philadelphia to visit the stand this year, calling the 12-year-old "extremely" impressive.
"What a beautiful princess!" Sample said Tuesday. "Addie herself has so many challenges, and yet she is willing to give her time to make a difference in someone's else's life and pay the sunshine forward. We're very grateful."
Sample's husband started the Sunshine Foundation in 1977 when he met a sick child who dreamed of playing in the snow. Since then, the foundation has granted about 40,000 wishes.
Proceeds from Loerzel's cupcake efforts this year will help grant the wish of Travis, a 13-year-old boy with Down syndrome who wants to go to Disney World.
Sample said the foundation is always looking for more children to help.
"Other wish-granting organizations require a life-threatening diagnosis," she says. "Sunshine Foundation does not, so we're reaching out to those other children with lifelong severe, chronic conditions."
To learn more about the organization, visit sunshinefoundation.org.