Community Helps Raise Nearly $4K for Teens After Their Lemonade Stand Was Robbed at Gunpoint
Two teenage boys are receiving overwhelming love and support from their Illinois community after they were robbed at gunpoint while operating a lemonade stand.
On Aug. 7, 13-year-olds Jude and Tristan were selling lemonade in Peoria when they were approached by two men, one of whom was holding a gun, Officer Amy Dotson of the Peoria Police Department told CNN.
The teenagers' cash box, which contained around $30, was stolen by the men, who fled on foot. The incident reportedly remains under investigation, and no arrests have been made.
Nathan Peterson, Jude's father, told CNN that the boys "were shocked" and "couldn't process what happened" following the robbery.
"I got a call from police saying, ''Hey, your kids are OK, but they just got robbed.' I almost blacked out, I was just so scared I was trying to get there as fast as possible," he said.
After Peterson arrived at the scene, he saw that police officers had surrounded the lemonade stand and were purchasing cups of lemonade for about $20 each.
"I was relieved," Peterson said. "They created a very protective environment for the boys. This situation could have ended so badly, but somehow they helped turn what could have been a horrible experience into something beautiful."
News of the robbery quickly spread throughout Peoria, and friends, neighbors and strangers alike began opening their wallets to the boys, coming together to raise more than $3,500 through Facebook fundraisers and PayPal donations, Peterson told CNN.
"There was so much love poured out on them so fast after the incident, and so much of it for so many days in a row, that their main experience from this incident has been of love and support," he said.
Last Tuesday, just four days after the robbery, Jude and Tristan opened their lemonade stand for business once again, and welcomed dozens of customers — as well as a police armadillo truck followed by 15 police cars.
"The officers and police chief got out of their cars and talked to the boys and told them how much they supported them," Peterson said. "They gave them a donation and took turns buying lemonade. It just made them feel so safe and encouraged."
A video of the police cars lining up the street and officers purchasing cups of lemonade from the boys was shared on Facebook by the Peoria Police Department.
Tristan told CNN that although the robbery was "surreal," the subsequent response from the police and his community was what stood out most for him.
"I think there will be less robberies in Peoria because of the way we celebrate the good and are proactive about correcting the bad," he said. "Everyone's generosity and support makes me determined to also give generosity and support to others."