WAUCONDA, Ill. — Community members united in Wauconda Monday to raise money for a family grieving the loss of a young boy.
Geraldo Rodriguez, 9, died over the weekend in a paddleboat incident at Bangs Lake.
He and a friend, 11-year-old Marquis Montez, took a paddle boat into the water Friday night. When the boat rocked, the boys got scared and jumped in the water thinking they could swim to shore. The water was 45 degrees — cold enough for hypothermia to set in within minutes.
Fishermen were able to save Marquis, but Geraldo went under. Dive crews searched for several hours Friday night and recovered the boy’s body around noon Saturday.
The Lemonade Brigade heard about what happened to Geraldo and wanted to help. Other community members also stepped up an a fundraiser was held at the fire department Monday.
“We saw everything happening on Facebook and we just feel horrible for this family and what they’re going through so we just wanted to do what we could to help,” President of Lemonade Brigade Chrissy Christiansen said. “So many people are here to support and it’s amazing.”
Relatives said family flew in from Florida for a party. Geraldo was set to celebrate his 10th birthday alongside family and friends Saturday
The Lemonade Brigade started in 2014 as a response to another tragedy.
They’re hopeful the money raised can help this family through their loss.
“Really we’re just all about putting a smile on our recipient’s face,” Christiansen said. “They can do whatever they want with this money and we just hope that it relieves any kind of financial stress, any kind of stress at all. We just raise money for those smiles.”
Geraldo was going to turn 10 on Wednesday.
The family will still celebrate his birthday at Bangs Lake, the same place where he was found over the weekend.
The funeral and wake arrangements are pending.