KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Izzy Grimes walked into class Wednesday with a huge smile on her face. She sat on the floor with her classmates, looked around at her parents, teachers and news cameras and wondered what was going on.
“Isabella Grimes,” said American Legion member Frank Warren to the class of third graders. “Can she please come up?”
Izzy stood up with an even bigger smile. Her classmates began clapping as she walked over to Warren and gave him a hug. She received a certificate from Talons Out Honor Flight for raising over $1,500 that sent three local veterans on trip to Washington D.C. in September.
“I am very surprised,” said Izzy during an interview at the Montessori School. “I did not know this. This is, this is just amazing.”
Izzy spent her summer selling flavored lemonade through her charity Izzy's Lemon-Aid. She opened a stand in front of her home to raise money for veterans, offering blueberry, strawberry and plain lemonade. She did the same at a few events around town and by July raised over a $1,000. The American Legion heard about what she was doing and immediately wanted to thank her in a big way.
“This was a fantastic day,” said Warren. “This little girl was so happy. She didn’t know nothing about this. We kept this under wraps.”
The event was kept a secret for a month said Izzy’s father Daniel. Warren contacted him about doing something to honor her. So they came up with the idea of a surprise ceremony at the school, complete with a certificate, a jacket from Talons Out Honor Flight and a vest adorned with pins worth $500.
“Frank came up with the idea,” said Grimes. “He called me up and he said ‘Hey your daughter is great. I love your daughter. I want to adopt your daughter as my granddaughter. Let’s do something for her.'”
And Izzy loved it. She was thrilled to meet the veterans and shake their hands, she said. She considered them to be heroes.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Grimes. “I have an 8-year-old daughter who’s main focus and goal in life is to raise money and help World War II veterans.”
Izzy smiled during the entire event and turned into an instant celebrity among her classmates. They circled around her as soon as she sat on the floor with them with her vest and other gifts. She hopes to inspire them with her charity work. Her motto is easy.
“Well, to help other people and be happy for them,” said Izzy reciting her adage. “So they can live a happy life.”