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'Hugs, Hope, Hoppiness': Teen Turns Passion For Rabbits Into Nonprofit

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 15-year-old 4-H student has turned his passion for rabbits into a thriving business and nonprofit.

Caleb Smith had success at the Minnesota State Fair last year, taking home 32 ribbons for his rabbits. Since last year's fair, the business has really taken off and he's acquired an interesting place for all his beloved rabbits to get some R and R.

"Our tagline is we share hugs, hope and hoppiness," Smith said.

(credit: CBS)

Smith takes 16 breeds of rabbits to senior centers, birthday parties, educational events and communities recovering from tragedies like a mass shooting.

"It's not just the rabbits I'm passionate about, but just helping people," Smith said. "I thought if we have an island, it would be a great place to train the rabbits."

Smith makes mortgage payments on a set of five islands along the Mississippi River. He bought them for the bunnies.

"I was 14 when I started leasing the islands," Smith said.

Peacebunny Island is the largest of the five at 22 acres. Smith has already paid off a houseboat that he takes to the island with his friends and a chaperone, of course.

"Yeah, we can make a day out of it, spend a weekend there," Smith said.

But Caleb is doing much more than island hopping this summer. His last hoorah before starting high school is competing with his 4-H club at the State Fair. Smith competed with his 4-H rabbits this past weekend, bringing home a stack of ribbons, some prizes and a few new friends. He is competing again this Saturday, so we wish him luck.

Whether it's the fair or his business, Smith just wants to spread the feeling that you get when you spend time with these cuddly creatures.

Peacebunny Island is not open to the public. For more information, visit the website.

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