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At just 12 years old a young girl in Highland Park is putting most fundraisers to shame.

To date,  she’s raised close to 25 thousand dollars for a suburban therapeutic horseback riding program. A program near and dear to her heart.

We caught up with Gabriella Cooperman last fall when the weather was perfect for her 7th annual cookies for charity fundraiser.

It’s a lemonade stand on steroids.

On this warm September afternoon last year, 12 year old Gabriella Cooperman, with her BFF’s at her sid, held her 7th “cookies for charity” fundraiser on a corner in Highland Park.l

“I`ve raised $8600 so far and I`m hoping to meet my goal of $9600,” Gabriella said.

“It`s not your typical lemonade stand. Gabriella felt, she felt that selling lemonade was not enough, because everyone sells lemonade, she was like, what can I do to make my lemonade stand different?  And that`s when the cookies for charity came about,” said Dena Cooperman, Gabriella’s mom.

“And Heath Bar Crunch, chocolate chip cookies which have toffee in them, which are 2 for one, or 3 for five. ‘ Wow, how long did it take you to memorize that’ I memorized it when I was five’,” Gabrielle said.

Yep, every year, since she was five, Gabriella has asked her friends to help her sell lemonade and cookies, courtesy of mom, to raise money for Equestrian connection in Lake Forest.

A stable with some 300 therapy horses.  It’s a special place for children and adults with a wide range of disabilities.

It’s where her disabled sister, Danielle, gained the courage and strength to walk.

“I`m doing this because, when I saw the difference in my little sister Danielle, I knew that equestrian connection was positively magical. And then when I found out there were kids who needed this therapy but couldn’t afford it, I knew I had to help.”

So aside from sponsoring Danielle’s horse, she’s also raising money to adopt another horse for her friend Reagan.

She went out and raised money for this girl to get her therapy and inspired others to do so, too. We have up to 45 clients who need financial assistance, so she`s very inspiration to everyone. I`m just disappointed I can`t hire her right now. She`s a little young (laugher),” said Diana Schnell, Equestrian Connection Co-Founder.

Cookies for Charity also relies on donations Gabriella solicits from several businesses.  She’s found that raising money is no easy task.

“But my mom, she does marketing so we carefully placed our posters and fliers around the city. And my dad, he does business, so it`s a pretty good team working. “

Gabriella has raised over $21,o00 so far.

“You`re going to see more of her throughout her life. She is a mover and shaker. She might be a little girl right now, but she is very charismatic, she`s very genuine. She is going to do great things with her life. And this is just the start of it,” said Linda Ransom with Equestrian Connection.

“It makes me proud that I`m able to make a difference, even though I`m 12, and I`m hoping got inspire other kids doing the same.”

“And that`s the heart of Gabriella, she`s always thinking of others and how she can make a difference in this world and just always looking out for everyone else`s soul. “

And that’s why Gabriella Cooperman is one of Chicago’s Very Own.

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