Appleton teen's Yum Yum Rolls make him JA 'Young Entrepreneur Live' finalist

Four teens have a shot at a $10,000 prize – and FOX6 News is bringing you the finalists for the Junior Achievement ‘Young Entrepreneur Live’ competition.

One of those in the running for the top prize is a 13-year-old from Appleton – whose grandma's recipe will have you saying, "Yum!"

To know how tasty the 13-year-old's creation is – just ask one of his hundreds of happy customers. Aaron Vanden Heuvel may only be in 8th grade, but his journey from middle schooler to business owner is quite the story – that fittingly started in the pages of a book.

"So Yum Yum Rolls started when my when I was reading a book in the sixth grade called ‘A Long Walk to Water,’" Vanden Heuvel said.

The book shares the struggle of kids in South Sudan, who must walk hours for clean water.

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"And so they couldn't go to school, so that made me really sad," Vanden Heuvel said.

The 13-year-old wanted to help through a fundraiser. Around the same time, his grandmother passed away.

"She made the best caramel roles in the world," Vanden Heuvel said.

A decision to bake his grandma's famous rolls – to place in her casket to send to heaven with her – led to a remarkable moment.

"My mom posted a picture of me making them. Someone asked if they could buy some, so we thought like what a perfect way to donate," Vanden Heuvel said.

Yum Yum Rolls were born. The business has brought the family together. Mom, Michelle, helps with the baking. And his dad?

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"Don's helping him on Saturday nights prepare and make the rolls. Matter of fact, they have their own playlist that they use. Yeah. You need music," Michelle said.

A budding business that nearly ended right around its one-year anniversary.

"They said, like Aaron, we have something to tell you. So I knew something was wrong," Vanden Heuvel said.

There was a fire that started in the kitchen while they were away.

"The whole kitchen was black. There was ash everywhere," Vanden Heuvel said.

It forced the family out. 

"I obviously was thinking about the house and like what we're gonna do. And then sitting there, and I was like, what am I going to do with Yum Yum? What's gonna happen next?" Vanden Heuvel said.

Nearlyi a year out of the house, four kitchens later, and an offer from a local bakery to help, Vandel Heuvel's Yu, Tum Rolls are still rolling out. 

"A little over 400 dozen," Vanden Heuvel said.

As his family prepares to finally move back in, Vanden Heuvel's perseverance has cooked up his biggest treat yet… Junior Achievement ‘Young Entrpreneur Live’ finalist. 

Vanden Heuvel set a goal to raise $15,000 to build a well in South Sudan and is close to reaching his goal!  If you would like to order Yum Yum rolls for yourself, check out the Yum Yum Rolls Facebook page. 

Watch the program

This exciting event is hosted by FOX6’s Mary Stoker Smith. You can watch these impressive Young Entrepreneurs in action as they make their bid to bring home the grand prize. The stream goes live on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 3:30 p.m.

You will need to register to watch the program, but there is no fee or cover charge. 

You will also find more information on the Young Entrepreneur Competition, plus a list of the finalists and judges.