Make-A-Wish fundraiser

GIVING: Rainan Brase of Yutan and Blue, his parakeet, sell pop and water during Yutan Days to raise money for Make-A-Wish. The eight-year-old has given nearly $6,250 to the organization so far. (Staff Photo by Suzi Nelson)

GREENWOOD – Rainan Brase opened the door and greeted every customer as they entered and exited Bakers Candies in Greenwood last weekend.

The special treatment came as the youngster was raising money for a good cause.

In the last three years, the eight-year-old from Yutan has raised nearly $6,250 for Make-A-Wish by selling bottled water and soft drinks in his hometown and the surrounding area. At Bakers Candies he raised $1,500 alone in two days.

“I like helping out kids,” Rainan said.

When Rainan was about four years old, he told his parents, Luke and Kelli Brase, he wanted to build a special stand that he would place at the end of the driveway leading to their rural home north of Yutan. There he could quench the thirst of local citizens by giving away cans of his then-favorite brand of pop – Pepsi.

“He wanted to build a Pepsi stand, not a lemonade stand,” said Luke.

Luke and his father, Steve Brase, who lives nearby, tried to dissuade Rainan from his idea because they live in a rural area. But Rainan remained persistent.

“He tried for a year to convince us,” Luke said.

Luke and Kelli did some research to find a way for their young son to give to the community in a safer manner. Rainan was a fan of John Cena, a WWE wrestling star and TV personality who holds the title for granting the most wishes for the Make-A-Wish organization. Cena fulfilled his 600th wish in April, the organization recently reported.

Make-A-Wish was founded in the early 1980s to give children with critical illnesses the opportunity to experience a joyful event like visiting a superhero or going to Disney World. The organization has granted wishes to more than 300,000 children in the U.S. Although Make-A-Wish initially granted wishes only for terminal patients, the organization expanded many years ago to include youth who are suffering from progressive, degenerative or malignant condition conditions.

Rainan’s caring nature meant that raising money for Make-A-Wish was a perfect fit.

“I like helping out kids that are sick,” he said.

Oliver suffers from Batten’s Disease, a degenerative disorder of the nervous system.

“Rainan loves Ollie,” said Luke.

Rainan and Luke worked together to build his first stand. It was not the first project the pair had done together. Rainan is a regular partner in carpentry projects with his dad, and even has his own tool belt.

“Rainan loves building with me,” said Luke.

This spring, the duo completed a new version of the stand. The sturdy wood structure is decorated in red, white and blue and has a version of a Pepsi logo painted on the top. The stand is on wheels for ease of transportation.

“It is one that he can grow into,” said Luke. “Hopefully, he can use it for years to come.”

They also built a matching wooden chair for Rainan to use while fundraising.

However, Rainan rarely sits when he is selling pop and water for Make-A-Wish. While at Bakers Candies last weekend, he opened the door for every person going in and out of the store. He was also busy handing out bottles of water and cans of pop, all the while keeping up a lively line of conversation.

Talking to people is one of Rainan’s favorite things to do.

“When we go somewhere, he says, ‘Can I go talk to that lady over there?’” said Kelli.

With such an outgoing personality, Rainan connects well with everyone, especially adults, according to his mom.

“He’s like an old soul,” Kelli said.

According to Rainan’s family, he always had a loving, selfless nature.

“He has a huge heart,” said Kelli.

This is the third year that Rainan has been selling pop and water for Make-A-Wish. In his first year, he raised $700 in just one day. Since then, he has added to his tally by setting up the stand at Mead Days, Yutan Days and at businesses around the area like Bakers Candies.

The total amount he has given to Make-A-Wish so far is $4,748.99, but that will only increase after last weekend’s efforts in Greenwood.

Donations of beverages have helped Rainan achieve these large amounts. A friend of Luke’s, Darin Waters, donated 30 cases of bottled water from Norland Water Group. He even had special labels put on the bottles with Rainan’s picture on them, Luke said.

Rainan has several helpers when he sets up his stand. Of course, mom and dad are always there at his side. Occasionally some of his friends, like Lando and Kendall Baker, also help. They were there last weekend at Bakers Candies, which his co-owned by their father, Todd Baker of Yutan.

One of Rainan’s most unique helpers is Blue, his parakeet. Wherever Rainan takes his stand, Blue goes with him. The parakeet’s cage hangs on the stand in a featured spot.

“He wanted everyone to see that Blue helps him,” said Luke.

Rainan and Blue became best friends when the youngster received the parakeet on his birthday. Rainan is trying to teach Blue to talk, hoping “Make-A-Wish” is one of the first phrases she learns.

Rainan fits his philanthropic efforts in with his busy life as a soon-to-be third grader at Yutan Elementary School. He participates in flag football and baseball and hopes to begin learning how to play the guitar and piano soon.

Rainan’s career plans are pretty ambitious as well, patterned after extreme athletic competition shows he watches on television.

“The things I want to be when I grow up are I want to be an American Ninja Warrior and a Beastmaster,” he said.

While Rainan has set lofty goals for his future, one of his plans should be much easier to accomplish.

When asked how long he will be raising money for Make-A-Wish, he said, “Forever.”

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