What do the mayor-elect of Richfield, Minnesota, preschool teachers, toddlers and a WCCO-TV meteorologist have in common? The answer comes in two words. Joe. Carr.
For the past four years, Joe Carr has cheerfully hosted a lemonade stand in the front yard of his suburban Minneapolis home to raise money for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.
Joe is a connector and uses his smile, bold laugh and social media skills to build community and awareness for kids who have disabilities. You just never know who will show up in the crowds gathered around Joe and his big glass jars of raspberry and original lemonade.
A Richfield police officer pulled his cruiser over and couldn’t resist a cup of lemonade. Joe, who has cerebral palsy, uses an app on his iPad to communicate as his postal carrier, several teachers, aunts and friends cue up to his stand. Some of his preprogrammed messages from his iPad communication app include information about Gillette and how the money he’s raising will help families.
In 2018 Joe and his personal care assistant (PCA) Bill Aberg raised nearly $1,500 to buy gas cards for Gillette families who have to travel to get the care they need. Joe says he feels lucky to live so close to Gillette’s headquarters in St. Paul and he wants to be sure ALL kids can have access to great care.
This year Joe and Bill more than doubled their donation from the previous year. This winning team raised more than $3,700. "It was just a beautiful day and a great way to spend our afternoon," Joe's mother, Kristi Carr, exclaims. "The huge turnout included the Richfield police and fire departments and many community members."
"I'm a happy guy in general."
Joe will be a junior at Richfield High School in the fall and has been a Gillette patient since he was 3 years old. That’s when Gillette doctors officially diagnosed him as having spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. It affects all four limbs and his speech but not his spirit.
Joe says his mom, dad and sister help him stay positive and he stays very active.“I’m a happy guy in general," he reports. This summer Joe tried adaptive water skiing for the first time and loved it. He also plays adaptive soccer and floor hockey.
Joe and Kristi Carr, credit Gillette with helping him achieve and maintain his active lifestyle. “We love the orthotics, prosthetics and seating team at the Gillette Burnsville Clinic,” Kristi says. “They work with Joe to make sure his wheelchair fits him well and he can use it to participate in sports.”
"Gillette helps kids from around the world that have physical disabilities. Your donation goes towards families that travel to Gillette from across the country. I have always felt so comfortable there and know I am getting the best care from my therapists, dentist, psychiatrist, Dr. Taniguchi and others. Thanks Gillette for helping me get the care and services I need." –Joe Carr