CROWNSVILLE - You don't have to be rich to be a philanthropist. Sometimes all it takes is a lemonade stand and a big heart.
Most 11-year-olds would prefer to spend their spring break sleeping in and lounging around with friends, but Emily Petroro of New Jersey is not like most 11-year-olds.
She spent part of her break at Maryland Therapeutic Riding (MTR) in Crownsville. The group provides therapy for disabled people and wounded veterans using horses.
"I like helping kids and I like helping animals, so them mixed together, I like that," Petroro said.
Every summer, Petroro sets up a lemonade stand, but instead of pocketing the profits, she donates them. Her love of horses made the decision easy to send MTR the $70 she collected along with a hand-written note.
"We have things that happen here all the time that are inspiring," said Ken McCreedy, executive director at MTR. "But something like that comes in and really catches fire."
The MTR staff wrote a couple of letters to Petroro, thanking her for her gift. About 80 percent of MTR's budget is funded by community donations, so every dollar counts.
"They were so appreciative of an 11-year-old thinking of them, wanting to be a part of what they do and helping them out," said Jill Petroro, Emily's mom.
"She’s got a warm heart and that’s what it’s all about," said Emily's father, Robert Petroro.
The Petroros decided to drive down to Maryland and see the facility. They met the horses and watched one of the rider’s therapy sessions. They even spoke to the rider’s mom, who shared her son’s success story and the difference its made in his life.
And it’s because of people like Emily that MTR can continue to offer these valuable services and make a difference in the lives of others.
"People like Emily give us all hope and give us all inspiration," said McCreedy.