GENESEO, Ill. Honoring a bright life cut short, with a little bit of color, hundreds showed up to the Geneseo Community Center to remember three-year-old Carter Joseph.
“This was such a dark time for our family. Such an awful time for our family. And there was beauty in how the town came together,” Alex Joseph, Carter’s father, said.
Carter's family and friends gathered on Saturday for a celebration of life, more than a week after he died. He was killed after being hit by a runaway car in a Geneseo church parking lot.
While the loss is raw, his family is trying to move forward and honor Carter. His father said the event was all about giving back to the community and celebrating his son's legacy. He said the turnout and community support has been unreal in this difficult time.
"It’s about celebrating Carter but it's also about letting other people make some memories with their families and have a good time and spend time with their kids," Joseph said.
Following Carter's death, his family wanted a way to honor their son and bring the community together.
"Magicians, balloon animals, bounce houses, everybody got the concept right away. We wanted to celebrate carter's life," he said.
The family also created a new charity, which celebrates Carter’s love for art.
"We started Outside The Lines which is a foundation that we created to celebrate children's art and give kids a chance to make messes and do cool stuff," he said.
Thinking of others, while moving through grief, Carter's father hopes the foundation will spark joy in other children, just like art did for Carter.
"He was most at home and most calm when he had a paintbrush and marker in his hand. He would get really calm and totally focus on his art. Make enormous messes in our house, on walls and carpet. And we still have glitter and glue stuck throughout all of the cracks and crevices of our house,” Joseph said.
The response from the community was overwhelming for the grieving family. Joseph said people brought art supplies and donated their time and money.
"It's been unreal to see 100's and 100's and 100's of people you don't know come and support your family," he said.
The community stepped up to help the Carter’s family when they need it the most.
“It's unreal as a person to feel that much love. And that much attention at a time when you feel so lost and alone. So, this is for them. This is for the community. This is for Geneseo,” he said.
Outside The Lines is in need of more volunteers and funding. If you are interested in helping, you can access their website here.