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Joe and Bill’s Annual Lemonade Stand Brings Community Together

Gillette Children's patient Joe and his friend Bill at their lemonade stand.

Joe and Bill's lemonade stand raised nearly $16,000 to help Gillette Children’s families pay for adaptive bikes.

A perfect summer day set the stage for Joe and Bill's 9th Annual Lemonade Stand, a fundraiser that started as an endeavor to give back to Gillette in 2016 and has grown into a beloved community tradition. This year, their efforts culminated in their personal yearly record of nearly $16,000 to help Gillette Children’s families pay for adaptive bikes. 

Joe Carr, a Gillette patient with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, embarked on his philanthropic journey to help other families who have complex brain, bone and movement conditions after a life-changing surgery at Gillette.  

"I wanted to figure out a way to give back to the hospital that has always been by my side,” Joe explained with a smile, using his augmentative and alternative communication device. “So, I created a lemonade stand at my house to raise money for other Gillette patients.” 

The stand has become a staple community event in Richfield, Minn., drawing in hundreds of customers each year. Visitors consist of community members, neighbors, firefighters, police officers, schoolchildren, Gillette employees and even journalists Joe has befriended. Attendees eagerly line up for a cup of lemonade and a chance to support Joe’s mission of ensuring access to the magic that adaptive bikes provide.  

“Having my adapted bike is having my freedom and independence increase,” Joe said. “I love to go super fast on my bike.”  

Bill Aberg, Joe's long-time personal care attendant and partner in the lemonade business, reflected on Joe’s character even in his early years,  

“I can still picture my first day working with him in kindergarten when he had recently gotten his first powerchair,” Bill recalled. “We would go out for strolls in the hallway so he could practice using it. One time he took off down the hallway and literally rammed into a wall. I was freaking out because he was my responsibility, so I run down there and he’s just laughing. He thought it was the greatest thing. That really embodies his personality.” 

Despite challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the 2020 stand to adapt to a socially distant setup in the family’s yard, the community support only grew stronger.  

“We switched from raising funds for gas cards to adaptive bikes during COVID,” Joe’s mom, Kristi Carr said. “Since people weren’t driving as much, we were trying to think of what could be useful. Interestingly, that was the year that just took off. I think people were home and just really willing to help out.”  

This year, Joe and Bill served more than 20 gallons of lemonade as donations poured in through checks, cash and online contributions. The community's overwhelming generosity far exceeded their initial fundraising goal, setting a yearly record of $15,667. Which brought the grand total from all nine years to the astounding total of $70,656, demonstrating the profound impact of Joe's initiative and the depth of support from the community, far and wide.  

Kristi said their motivations to give back to Gillette stems from the services that played a pivotal role fostering Joe’s independence. Specifically, the transformative impact of Gillette’s specialized equipment such as his power chair, power standing chair and adaptive bike.  

Kristi also commended the hospital’s comprehensive therapeutic services in physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy – all crucial contributors to Joe’s progress and independence. She encourages other families navigating similar situations to actively involve themselves with Gillette, especially in connecting with the hospital’s supportive community of families.  

This lemonade stand is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Joe’s contributions to his community. He was awarded the Gene and Mary Jacobsen Outstanding Citizen Award by the Richfield Human Rights Commission in 2023 for his commitment to serving the community through promoting accessibility and equality. As Richfield eagerly anticipates its 10th annual lemonade stand, Joe's story stands as a testament to the profound impact of kindness, community spirit and a little bit of lemonade. 

As Joe reflected on his advice for other cerebral palsy patients at Gillette, he said, “Always have a positive outlook and never stop doing what you want to do. Never give up on your dreams.”