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Cerebral Palsy

When Life Hands You COVID-19…Make a Virtual Lemonade Stand

Joe Carr is a socially connected doer and thinker, so a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic was not about to stop him from launching his 5th annual Lemonade Stand Fundraiser for Gillette Children's.

Joe, his mother Kristi Carr and their friend Bill Aberg, say in a strange twist COVID-19 might make this year of fundraising even more successful.

“I think people are hungry for good news and to do something positive,” Kristi says. “We decided to have a virtual lemonade stand and will host an in-person, socially distant, stand in our yard on Thursday, July 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Joe Carr with his mom, Kristi and friend Bill Aberg are excited about this year's 5th annual lemonade stand to benefit Gillette.

Joe Carr with his mom, Kristi and friend Bill Aberg are excited about this year's 5th annual lemonade stand to benefit Gillette.

Tools make fundraising easy and fun

The Carr family used tools created by the foundation team at Gillette to easily make a fundraising page to support our work and kids. 

“I love using these online tools,” Kristi exclaims. “When Joe and I wake up in the morning we both race to log on to see how much our fundraising total has increased.”

Friend and personal care attendant (PCA) Bill Aberg adds, “I think we’re really getting a jump on the fundraising this year. People are at home and are spending more time on their computers. People know how much this lemonade stand fundraiser means to us and Gillette. The donations are showing up early and it’s impressive.”

Joe Carr is a

Joe Carr is a "super fan" for the Richfield Spartan basketball team.

A "Super Fan" misses his team and friends

Joe Carr has been a patient at Gillette since he was 3.

That’s when Gillette doctors diagnosed him with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. His level of cerebral palsy means all four of his limbs are affected and he has difficulty speaking. Gillette specialists make sure he has the best tools to be as independent as possible including a power wheelchair and an alternative and augmentative communication device that runs on his iPad.

Joe says his lemonade stand is proving to be a good distraction as he and his family spend lots of time together at home to stay safe from COVID-19. Joe’s sister is back home from college this summer. His dad, Mike, is working reduced hours and Kristi’s job at a school has been scaled-back. 

“I really miss my school, teachers and friends,” Joe says. He’s about to be a senior at Richfield High School and reports distance learning last spring was “not too bad.” He’s known as a “super fan” for the Richfield Spartans boys’ basketball team and he and Bill have been to a few team summer practices while maintaining social distancing.  

In fact, one of Joe’s last activities before the COVID-19 lockdown was cheering the Spartans on during a 75-63 win over Bloomington Kennedy during the Class 3A semifinal basketball game on March 10, 2020. “Joe and I were disappointed the basketball season had to abruptly end,” Bill says. “We understand the need for safety and are happy our team went out with a win.”  

Joe is anxious and cautiously optimistic that sometime this fall he’ll return to the Richfield High School building. “It’s been under construction for a while and I want to see what was done in the remodeling,” Joe says. “Plus I want to reconnect with my teachers and friends.” 


Joe Carr and WCCO meteorologist Chris Shaffer. Chris has been a consistent patron and promoter of Joe and Bill's Lemonade Stand over the years. 

Adaptive bikes and local celebrities

Exercise and fresh air are helping to boost Joe’s mood during the lockdown. A grant from the Gillette Adaptive Technology and Sports Fund helped the Carr family purchase a custom made adaptive trike for Joe. This year the money raised from the Carr’s virtual lemonade stand will go to the adaptive bike program.

Joe Carr enjoys time on his adaptive trike.

“Joe’s Freedom Concept adult trike is great,” Kristi says. “We want to be sure other kids have the opportunity to connect with Gillette and hopefully get a grant to purchase an adaptive bike. Riding the bike is great exercise and helps kids get stronger and have fun.”

The lemonade stand team hopes for some local celebrity visits during the in-person socially distant stand on July 23. “In the past WCCO-TV meteorologist Chris Shaffer has stopped by,” Kristi says. “KSTP-TV’s Ellen Galles has also come by with her children and Bisi ONile-Ere from Fox 9 did a story on us too.” Kristi acknowledges it’s fun to see local TV personalities but she also enjoys connecting with friends, her postal worker and community members. Lots of people know Joe and his lemonade stand.

“We won’t actually be serving our famous lemonade or snacks this year,” Kristi says. “It’s just not safe or wise to eat and drink in public these days. But we will wave to people and have a nice socially distant visit with people so we can thank them for contributing. We’re anxious to see old friends and make new ones.”

Please click here for the Facebook Link to the Carr Virtual Lemonade Stand fundraiser:

To learn more about how you can start your own fundraiser in support of Gillette, contact Heather Hammond.


Joe Carr enjoys spending time with his dog Lucy and raising money to help Gillette kids.