“I like helping other people and I like being kind to others,” Kyleigh Brunette tells PEOPLE
An 8-year-old Wisconsin girl, whose father took his own life, wanted to do her part to help make sure other kids don’t have to grow up without a parent. Her lemonade stand raised $800 for suicide prevention.
Kyleigh Brunette, from Sheboygan, remembers playing disc golf and video games and going to parks with her father, 32-year-old Jordon Wakefield.
“He was funny and loving and caring for me and he would never, ever yell at me,” Kyleigh tells PEOPLE.
Her father died by suicide in November 2019. Because Kyleigh was so young, at the time her mother didn’t tell her exactly how he died.
“We didn’t want her to start having those feelings of guilt,” explains her mother, Brittany Brunette-Thimmesch, 30. “So we waited, but we didn’t want to wait too long because we didn’t want her to hear it from someone else.”
Brunette-Thimmesch, a sub-secretary for the Sheboygan Area School District, said that her daughter’s therapist also “pulled me aside and was like, “You know, you’re going to need to tell her eventually. She’s getting older. Kids are going to start talking.’ ”
A few months ago, Kyleigh told her mother she really wanted to know exactly how her dad died. “She needed that closure,” recalls her mom.
So, they had a big conversation.
In honor of her father’s July 9th birthday this year, Kyleigh decided to set up a lemonade stand in his memory, donating all of the proceeds to Mental Health America in Sheboygan.
“She wanted to help people that can’t afford services to get the services so that it doesn’t happen to another person, or another kid doesn’t have to go without a parent,” her mom explains.
Kyleigh sold lemonade on two days— July 1 and July 8 — and raised a total of $800. Now, she plans on making it an annual tradition.
“It made me happy because I like helping other people and I like being kind to others,” Kyleigh tells PEOPLE. “My dad died from suicide, and I want to raise awareness.”