Boy, 11, Sells Lemonade To Help Friend Who Needs Wheelchair
HAMMOND, LA (AP) — An 11-year-old Hammond philanthropist named Brody Barker is about to set up his eighth lemonade stand, this time at Hot August Night where he will be trying to raise $4,000 for a 5-year-old Hammond boy in need.
Both boys will be at Johnny's Conoco Service on West Thomas Street at Hot August Night on Aug. 14 at 6 p.m.
"I heard my mom and dad talking in the living room about a boy who needed a new wheelchair, and I asked if we could help him this year," Brody said.
This will be his second year at Hot August Night, a popular annual event that showcases downtown Hammond businesses. In 2014, he raised $1,100 for the Tangi Humane Society. He has also sold lemonade at the Hammond Blues and Barbecue for the past few years to benefit multiple organizations.
Brody makes all of his own lemonade, strawberry and regular, and sells it by the cup for $2-$3 or by the gallon for $8.
"When it's busy we have two long lines for regular and another for strawberry," he said happily. "Everyone says it's great."
People often donate without buying a drink when they see what Brody is fundraising for, his mom said, or they will pay $10 for a cup and tell them to keep the change.
"Last year at Hot August Night we sold 250 cups of lemonade," she said. "We were so amazed at the response. We're hoping to have that crowd plus to come out and help Trevor."
Trevor Rickerson was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when he was 10 months old and has been in a wheelchair since he was age 1.
"SMA is the number one genetic killer of children under the age of 2," said his mom, Brittany Rickerson.
"It's a progressive disease, and they can't tell you life expectancy. Trevor has never borne any weight on his legs. He's never crawled. He would fall over as a baby when he tried to sit up."
The disease causes Trevor's voluntary muscles to atrophy and he only has 10 percent muscle usage, Rickerson said.
For all the disease has taken from him, Rickerson said Trevor is smart, happy and determined to do everything.
"He thinks he can do anything. Nothing stops him," she said. "He will try anything. He wants to play soccer, T-ball. He dances in his chair. He's full of life."
He has been in his wheelchair four years and it is too small for him, but the insurance company has declined to pay for a larger one.
Rickerson is appealing the decision and hopes they'll get insurance to pay for most of the specially fitted, $44,000 chair, but will need at least $10,000 for it for their co-pay. She said Trevor also needs a walker, shower seat and other equipment as he grows, which is hard to afford as a single mom.
"He will develop scoliosis without a new chair," she said. "He needs the proper support for his body."
Trevor spends most of his time in his powered wheelchair, and all of his time in it at school, where Rickerson said he is a star student.
A mutual friend connected the boys, who have become fast friends.
"They bonded instantly," Rickerson said. "Trevor loves to be around people. I don't think he's ever met a stranger."
Brody said Trevor is a "really cool kid."
"He's really nice," Brody said.
"The day we went over there we played Playstation and he let me play with his helicopter."
Brody has written letters to his favorite sports and TV stars asking them to help the Rickersons buy a new car.
Their current van has a lift that allows Rickerson to be transported with his wheelchair, but it won't fit the bigger wheelchair when they get it.
"The new wheelchair will weigh 420 pounds," Rickerson said. "I'm not sure how we're going to pay for that, but people have offered some fundraisers and we've been very blessed."
She said one friend is selling raffle tickets for a set of Saints tickets and another is doing a charter boat benefit.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up online and has raised $2,610 in a month to help with medical expenses.
Brody plans to keep doing lemonade stands through school before growing up to be a baseball player.
"I don't think I'll still do lemonade stands then," he said. "I'll probably just donate money."
Trevor said he wants to be a soldier in the Army.
– by AP/ Reporter Sarah Wilson with The Daily Star