Paula Strauss turned an unbelievable tragedy into a way to serve her community. Strauss owns and operates Moo and Lou Frozen Treats and More. She started the company in 2018 as a way to honor her late daughter, Maddie.
“Maddie was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus,” Strauss says. “When she was four months old, I found her face down on my grandma’s couch, not breathing. Maddie did have a faint heartbeat, so I started giving her rescue breaths until EMS arrived. She survived this against all odds but did end up with a hypoxic brain injury and cerebral palsy. She was still perfect. She passed away in 2014 from complications from gallbladder surgery. It was very unexpected. After she passed, we started a nonprofit in her honor called Maddie Smiles.”
The following is the organization’s mission statement: “To uplift, inspire, and motivate others to practice kindness and make the world a brighter place by engaging and educating our communities of the importance and effects of being kind.”
“We started Moo and Lou as the for-profit side of our nonprofit,” Strauss says. “We take the trailer to various places and sell our frozen treats. The funds go toward committing random acts of kindness in Maddie’s honor.”
The frozen treats include shaved ice, lemonade slushies and Sundae’s homemade ice cream.
“The community support has been amazing,” Strauss says. “We have over 400 followers on Facebook, and we have so many repeat customers. They love us because we have such a variety of frozen treats. They also know our family’s story, and they want to support us and our mission.”
The name is a nod to Maddie and her sister, Lacy.
“Maddie Moo and Lacy Lou are our nicknames for our daughters,” Strauss says. “We thought it was a great name for the business.”
In the cooler months, the Lawrence native pivots the business to accommodate the falling temperatures.
“In the winter, we sell gourmet hot cocoa,” Strauss says. “We have whipped cream, marshmallows, Ghirardelli caramel and chocolate, and all sorts of good stuff.”
Strauss’s goal for Moo and Lou is simple. She wants to continue Maddie’s goal of making people smile.
“We’re trying to make this a better world and trying to get people to be kind to each other,” Strauss says. “We hope we can get back into the schools and teach the kids about the importance of kindness. I grew up in this community, and my girls have been born and raised here. We do a lot in the area, but we’re hoping to expand further out into the community.”
Operating Moo and Lou and Maddie Smiles is a full-time job for Strauss.
“When Maddie was here, she would make people’s day,” Strauss says. “To see someone in a wheelchair, with as many things going on as she had, smile at people was amazing. Maddie Smiles and Moo and Lou have been very healing for us. I don’t think I’ll ever fully heal, but she is my every day.”
Find Moo and Lou Frozen Treats and More at the Fort Ben Farmers Market each week, as well as local events, churches and neighborhoods. For a complete schedule, visit facebook.com/mooloufrozentreats.
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