EAST GRAND FORKS — It's a very merry Christmas for hundreds of athletes in our region thanks to one little boy.
It's something many of us have tried, a little stand to sell something in our front yard, but this week's Gem took it to a whole new level, something this state has never seen.
There is a special bond between Owen Gregoire and his cousin Reed who has Down syndrome.
"More like a brother to me than a family member," Owen said.
Owen frequently checks in on his 8-year-old cousin Reed throughout the day at South Point Elementary in East Grand Forks.
"I want to to make sure he is in his best mood, make sure he doesn't feel sad or mad," Owen said.
Reed also inspires Owen.
"I said, 'Mom and Dad, I really want to raise money for Reed.'"
And not just Reed, but hundreds of Special Olympics athletes across North Dakota.
"He wanted to make sure they have adequate equipment, bats and balls and gloves, track and field stuff, so they can enjoy sporting activities of any kind," said Owen's dad Ryan Gregoire.
Owen called it "Kool-Aid for a Cause."
"We asked him how much he wanted to raise, he said about 150 bucks," Ryan said. "That's really nice, but 150 bucks doesn't go very far these days."
With a loftier goal in mind, on a hot summer day in June, the 9-year-old rounded up his hockey buddies, friends and family.
This effort was going to take a lot of water and sugar.
They set up shop outside a local gas station, along with putting together a fundraising website. The price of a cup was a free-will donation.
"People were pulling in giving 20s, 20 after 20, some people giving 100s, it was amazing," Ryan said.
"I was like, 'This is a lot of money, I can't believe I raised this much money," Owen said.
Altogether, Owen raised $3,700 in 11 hours.
So what made the Kool-Aid so tasty?
"I had orange and red and we sometimes mixed it together and called that the surprise," Owen said.
"We would call that more than a major gift, that's why it is such a gem, it's a diamond for Special Olympics," said Special Olympics North Dakota CEO Kathy Meagher.
Owen finally got to present his check to the Special Olympics the other week. It's believed to be the single largest donation by a kid in state history.
"With his age and his foresight into making an impact, not only on one person, but hundreds of people in the state of North Dakota, that truly demonstrates great deal of young maturity and leadership," Meagher said.
"He's got a big heart and hopefully he can continue to do big things in the world," Ryan said.
Owen plans to do another "Kool-Aid for a Cause" event next year, but he has yet to pick a charity.