Blog

You are here

Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

Kaela Cruz, osteoscarcoma survivor and Alex's Lemonade Stand Hero Ambassadorby Kaela Cruz

ALSF Hero Ambassador Kaela Cruz lost her leg to osteosarcoma, the most common type of childhood bone cancer when she was just 5 years old. Today, Kaela is 14 years old and a budding paralympic athelete. Read more about her story, in her own words. 

My name is Kaela Cruz. I am 14 years old and I'm a junior paralympic athlete. When I was 5 years old, I suffered from osteosarcoma, which is a form of bone cancer. I lost left leg because of it. The past was very horrifying and it kind of stinks to look back. However, now,  I've  learned be grateful, to think positive, to love myself for who I am and to be proud of my many accomplishments. I am so excited to tell you: 

I fought with all my heart and beat cancer! I have been cancer free for 9 years and I have done so much and could not be happier.

The things I love and enjoy doing is playing the ukulele on my spare time and hanging out with friends and family. I do track and field on Fridays and swimming 4 times a week. I'm on the 

Navigators Adaptive Sports team and we train for upcoming competitions in our area or travel around the country. I am also involved with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and they helped me stay active and they also granted me a running prostetic to help me run. Just recently, I went to Wisconsin with my team for the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals Competition. Our team netted 146 medals (105 Gold, 27 Silver, and 14 Bronze).  We set several new national records; and once again we placed first in the Large Team category. I recieved 8 gold metals from nationals. It was awesome!

I got involved with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation when our family met Alex's parents, Liz and Jay, at the Childhood Cancer Symposium in Philadelphia several years ago. Since then we've been part of so many different events, including Alex's Million Mile. 

Alex's Million Mile really means so much to me. It gives me an opportunity where I can be active and hang out with my friends and family and get other people involved.
I have been able to tell my story and inspire kids and adults to make a difference to help end pediatric cancer. If I can do this, so can you! No excuses, get out there, grab your family, neighbors and friends and Run, Walk and Ride. Log in those miles, make a donation and make a difference! Have Fun Everyone!

Learn more about Alex's Million Mile and join our journey to a million today! 

Categories: 
Alex's Million Mile

 

It's back to school time! The school year is a great time to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. We have lots of amazing programs that your classroom (and school!) can participate in to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Not only will your kids help other kids, but they will learn some valuable life lessons

Here are five great ways to get involved and help find a cure for childhood cancer!

1. Join the Great Lemonade War
Get ready to compete with other schools! Inspired by the book The Lemonade War by Jaclyn Davies, schools across the country compete to see who can raise the most money through a lemonade stand project or other event. Schools who compete receive a copy of the book, lesson plans and resources on math, business and finance. Your students can learn about profit and loss, marketing and advertising. 

2. Run. Walk. Ride. for Alex’s Million Mile
Get your student body moving during Alex’s Million Mile—our annual campaign to collectively go one million miles for childhood cancer research. Each September, teams log the miles that they run, walk and bike in honor of the children battling cancer. Your school can create a team and log miles as part of their physical education program. Set fitness goals, host fundraising events and get your teachers involved by competing to see who can go the most miles! 

3. Help Make a Change with your Change! 
Sign up for our Change Childhood Cancer program! Just by collecting spare change, students can help other children battling cancer. It is a great lesson in saving, philanthropy and working together. Pennies add up to quarters which add up to dollars which will can fund more research! Schools that participate receive adorable coin collection boxes that look like little lemonade stands. 

4. Add Some Lemonade To Your Math Lessons 
Lemonade stand math is a fun, creative way to reinforce word problem skills, measurement, operations,and logic. ALSF has brand new math lesson plans appropriate for levels K-5. 

5. Share Alex’s Amazing Lemonade Stand Story
The story of ALSF starts with our founder Alex Scott—a girl just like your students! The book, Alex’s Amazing Lemonade Stand is a great read for classroom story time! Schools can request a complimentary copy, and download discussion materials from our website.

ALSF has even more tools in our Lessons and Downloads section of the website, including coloring pages! Ready to get your school involved in ALSF? Email our Community Engagement Specialists, Ellie Paparone (Pre-K-8) or Gayla Carr (High School andUniversities).

 

Categories: 
Schools

In addition to the medical research ALSF funds, ALSF also supports and funds research projects investigating quality of life issues. High quality care is a powerful tool against childhood cancer. The Quality of Life and Care grants empower those best positioned to make effective discoveries: the caregivers themselves. In our Nursing Grant awards, our grantees include nurse practitioners who are leading the field in pediatric oncology nursing practice, as well as those who will become future leaders. In our Psychosocial Grants, recipients are researchers and practitioners investigating novel approaches to understanding the psychosocial aspects of pediatric cancer that will impact clinical care. Here is one research project happening now conducted by nurse researcher - Dr. Nancy Moules.

Dr. Nancy Moules, professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary and Kids Cancer Care Foundation Chair in Child and Family Cancer Care, is studying the effects cancer and cancer treatments have on the relational development, sexuality and body image of adolescents. 

Together with her research partner, Dr. Andrew Estefan, Dr. Moules combined two research techniques, hermeneutics and narrative inquiry, to delve deep into the psychosocial effects of a cancer diagnosis. 

Hermeneutics is a methodology of interpretation—participants are interviewed and their interviews are interpreted for what we can learn from their experience. In the narrative inquiry methodology, Dr. Estefan worked with subjects to write their personal narratives—the story of their experience.

One research subject shared his digital story about battling cancer and body image, which you can see in the above video.

Dr. Moules interviewed 10 adolescents, all in various stages of childhood cancer treatment, beginning in January 2014. Dr. Estefan followed with in-depth interviews and narrative development with two of the subjects. 

"We are delighted that ALSF recognized the value and the importance of this kind of study. Using qualitative research helps us to understand the experience of childhood cancer through the eyes of those living it," said Dr. Moules

Adolescence is a time when teenagers are dating, forming relationships and moving psychologically away from their parents. When a cancer diagnosis happens, all of this typical development is still happening, but with cancer as a shadow. 

As Dr. Moules continues to compile and study her over 800 pages of research, she hopes that this research can result in resources for both adolescent patients as well as their nurses and other caregivers.  

ALSF has funded 650 childhood cancer research grants since 2006. Read more about our innovative grants program here.

by Liz Scott, Alex's Mom

It is hard to believe that it has been 12 years since our beautiful daughter Alex left us – August 1, 2004. It is even harder to believe that my little girl would be 20 years old.

Sometimes, I try to imagine her as a young woman; I try to conjure up an image of what she might look like and more importantly, what she would be like. It is hard to admit this, but no matter what I do, for several years now, I can’t bring myself to picture her as anything but an 8 year old. Maybe it is because it is just too hard to “go there." Imagining her as a 20 year old requires me to construct all of the years between 8 and 20 that would have played a part in shaping who she was, and that leads me to contemplate all she missed. My thoughts at those times are filled with so much bitterness and anger for all that cancer put her through and everything it stole from her.  

But invariably, it is at those moments when I get some inspiration from someone--sometimes it may be a message from a parent of a child with cancer that talks about the hope they feel because of all that has been accomplished through Alex’s legacy, or it may be a letter from a child who held a lemonade stand and is so proud to donate their money to “help kids like Alex”, or a researcher who says how vital the funding has been in advancing cures for their patients. These moments are so powerful that I have come to realize that I shouldn’t dwell on the “what ifs” of the life Alex did not have but instead focus on the extraordinary life she did have.  

Alex's 8 short years were packed with a lot of love and living. To most, Alex’s long battle with cancer and her amazing lemonade stands are what are most remembered about her life, but as a mom, I am lucky because I can add many more facets to her story. In fact, my most vivid memories don’t involve cancer or (dare I say!) even lemonade. It is the moments that came and went without much thought at the time that fill my heart. These are just plain, everyday moments that come to mind. Moments like Alex and her brother Eddie dancing like no one was watching to their favorite song, or Alex giggling every time her baby brother Joey yelled “mine!” even when there was no object in sight that belonged to him, or overhearing her chatting in the next room with her older brother Patrick about nothing in particular. These are the moments that made up her life and that made it great. When I think of the 8 ½ years we were blessed to share with her, there are endless reasons to smile and be grateful -- her joyful spirit, her feisty attitude, her incredible fortitude, her quick wit and of course, her determination to make sure other kids with cancer would have the chance to be cured that she did not.

So today, as I count 12 years since I last made memories with my girl, I will not allow myself to wonder what could have been but instead cherish her as she was, as an extraordinary person but also as my daughter—forever 8 years old. And I will cry a little, smile a little, and be grateful for it all. 

 

Categories: 
Alex

Running, walking or riding a million miles alone is impossible; but together we can make a difference and journey to a million during Alex’s Million Mile event this September.

Your first step is to register for Alex’s Million Mile! Then in September, you can begin tracking your miles. Here are 7 great ways you can rack up  miles and raise awareness of the need for cures for childhood cancer!

1. Track all your steps, all day long! Invest in a FitBit or other mile tracker to track your steps all day. If you are a cyclist, use Strava or MapMyFitness apps. Set a goal of at least 10,000 steps in a day. Bonus: Your FitBit, Strava and MapMyFitness can synch directly to your AMM account! Value: 5 miles/day! 

2. Train for that 5k/Half Marathon/Marathon. Seize the day (and the month!) and train for that 5K or marathon you’ve had on your goal list. Try a running program like Couch to 5k to help keep you on track. Enlist your friends in training and ask them to track their miles too! Value: 10 miles/week! (more if you are training for a longer race)

3. Pedal to a Million. Take a bike ride with your family, check out a local bike path or take it off-road to a spin class at the gym. One hour of biking, at a moderate pace can help you rack up the miles fast. Value: 25 miles/hour 

4. Make it a Family Affair. Journeys are more fun with family and friends. Sign up your entire family to track miles, even your family pet! (Fido’s miles count too). Take walks after dinner, in the morning and spend the time catching up! Value: 1 mile/day

5. Sign Up the Whole Team. Play a sport? Sign up your sports team to track practice miles. Sign up your kid’s soccer team and  all of those soccer moms too! Value: 40 miles/practice 

6. Bring Your Miles To Work. Form a group of lunchtime walkers or post-work runners. Make your weekly check-in meeting with your boss, a walking meeting. And, stop sitting so much! Walk around your office for 3 minutes every hour and watch your miles add up! Value: 5 miles/week

7. Keep Moving! Plan weekend runs and end with a fun brunch. Park far away. Take the stairs. Walk to lunch. High step during commercial breaks. Hit the mall for a day of shopping and walking. Value: Limitless!

How will you help us Journey to a Million? Share your Alex’s Million Mile tips with us and sign up your team today!  

 

Categories: 
Alex's Million Mile

At Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, we are all about kids helping kids

Childhood cancer hero, Ishani Sathianathan drew this amazing picture of her front yard lemonade stand. Ishani is a survivor of Stage 3 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common soft tissue cancer in children. She is also a long-time ALSF stand host! This summer, join kids like Ishani and host a front yard lemonade stand. Share Ishani’s picture and invite other families to join in the lemonade fun as well!

Ready to host? 
Sign up today!

And don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

About Monthly Shareables:
You can help Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation raise awareness of the need for childhood cancer research and cures for all children! Each month, we will share a new "shareable," an image for you to share with your social media network. Every time we start a conversation about childhood cancer, we bring ourselves closer to cures.

How To Share:
Sharing is easy! Links to the shareable on Facebook and Twitter are on the tabs below. Simply click on each tab and share, like and favorite! Thank you for helping ALSF fund innovative, cutting-edge childhood cancer research. 

Categories: 
shareable

How far would you go for childhood cancer? Would you help us on this journey to one million miles this September?

Each September, ALSF hosts Alex’s Million Mile, a month-long fundraising event that builds  awareness for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Last year, more than 15,000 people logged miles and raised money for childhood cancer research. Everyone can make the most of their steps (and miles!) in September by running, walking and biking to collectively exceed one million miles! 

This summer, we are making a video public service announcement to spread the word and get more people to join us on the Alex’s Million Mile journey  and we need your help!

Send us a 15-30 second video clip and let us know how far you would go for a cure for childhood cancer. Tell us why Alex’s Million Mile is important to you—and how you plan to help go one million miles in September! 

Winners will have their video clip featured in the PSA and receive a  special, limited edition 2016 Alex’s Million Mile t-shirt!

Ready to go? Here’s what you need to:

  1. Create your video. Selfie videos are encouraged!
  2. Post your video on our ALSF Facebook page  or e-mail the video to [email protected]

Need some more AMM inspiration? Check out these amazing stories from our childhood cancer heroes and SuperSibs.

Childhood cancer heroes and their families often travel hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles to receive treatment. Check out how far these children traveled! How far will you go?

Hero Kaela Cruz lost her leg to osteosarcoma when she was just 5 years old. But nothing stops Kaela! She is a tri-athlete, a pianist and an amazing girl who inspires  everyone she meets! 

SuperSib and Alex’s Million Mile participant Meg Schwehm finished her first half marathon in 2:22, just one week before her 8th birthday. Meg runs for her little sister Morgan who is 5 years old and is currently in remission from stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. When approached about running a half marathon, Meg’s father Jeremy told her that it  would be too hard. Meg said that if Morgan could go through two years of treatment, she could run 13 miles.

Why do you support AMM? We can't wait to see what you come up with! But, don’t delay! Submissions are due on or before Tuesday, July 5, 2016.

Open to people 18 years and older or minors with parental permission. By submitting your video to ALSF, you give us permission to use it in an AMM PSA to be distributed to our supporters via email, website and social media channels. Multiple entries are welcome.

Happy Alex’s Lemonade Days!

This weekend, during Alex’s Lemonade Days,  36 families across the U.S. will take a “stand” against childhood cancer as Lemonade Days Hero Reps. The 36 Lemonade Days Hero Reps symbolically represent the 36 children diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States. 

Each of the 36 families has been personally impacted by childhood cancer. During Lemonade Days (June 10-12), the families will spread awareness about the ongoing childhood cancer fight by sharing their personal journeys, hosting lemonade stands and enlisting community members to host their own stands. 

Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group, socioeconomic class or geographic region. But, these 36 families are living proof that everyone can take a “stand” and make a difference in the fight against childhood cancer. 

“Our family knows firsthand just how personal the fight against childhood cancer is,” said Liz Scott, Co-Executive Director of ALSF and Alex’s mom. “Our daughter would be honored to know that these 36 families will continue her legacy by literally taking a stand against childhood cancer and inspiring those in their community to come together toward finding cures.”

Alex’s legacy taught all of us that anyone can make a difference—one cup and one lemonade stand, at a time. 

Every donation makes a difference and adds up to valuable funding for innovative research. Every $50 raised equates to 1 hour of cutting-edge research in all types of childhood cancer. 

This weekend, no matter where you go, be on the look out for an Alex’s Lemonade Stand! Our 36 Hero Reps are located coast-to-coast. Meet three of these inspiring families:

 

Brady Williams, from Oakfield, NY, a 9-year old neuroblastoma survivor
“Brady is the best brother in the world,” says his brother, Eli. Brady Williams, diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2009, is one in a set of triplets: Cara and Eli, ages 9. They also have a younger sister, Allison age 7. The Williams family wants others to know that the impact of childhood cancer does not end when treatment ends. But Brady is optimistic saying, “Someday I will help make the world a better place!”

Lina Rak, from Portland, OR, a 16-year-old neuroblastoma survivor

Linda Rak knows a thing or two about turning lemons into lemonade. She has turned a side effect of cancer and treatment – her short stature – and turned it into a positive. She is the coxswain of her rowing team, spending 20 hours a week at the boat house! Lina has aspirations to be on the US National Rowing Team. As a family, the Raks like to travel, try new foods, experience new cultures and play with their Airedale Terrier, Duke.

Kylie Newlin, from Waxhaw, NC, a 14-year old acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor
Colleen Newlin describes her daughter Kylie as an inspiration and says she adds sparkles to her friends and family's lives. Kylie was diagnosed at 8-years-old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She was in treatment for two and a half years. She relapsed at age 12. She is now off treatment, back to school and starting the new phase of her life, leaving sparkles wherever she goes. As a family, the Newlins like to go to the beach, play with their dogs and go to lacrosse and baseball games. 

You can meet more of our hero reps here. 

This weekend, no matter where you are, no matter what you are doing, take a few minutes to stop by a lemonade stand.

Don’t forget to snap a selfie at lemonade stands this weekend! Share across social media and use #LemonadeDays. For more information on Alex’s Lemonade Days and to sign up to host a lemonade stand visit AlexsLemonadeDays.org

Categories: 
Lemonade Days

Dr. Jeffrey Huo, a first-time ALSF Young Investigator grant recipient and an instructor of oncology at John Hopkins University, authored a report on helping a young girl with relapsed T-cell leukemia, for which there are currently almost no treatment options. The young girl was diagnosed at 4-years-old and received a traditional matched bone marrow transplant from her sister. Six months later, she relapsed. Her team of doctors at Hopkins, including Dr. Huo and two of his mentors (also previously supported by ALSF Young Investigator grants), knew something new was needed to give the young girl a chance. 

Traditional bone marrow transplants replace a patient’s cancer-ridden immune system with a genetically matched immune system from a sibling or a volunteer donor. However, it is thought that a cancer which learned to hide from the patient’s original immune system can also, sometimes quickly, hide from the new genetically matched immune system, leading to relapse. In response, researchers at Johns Hopkins and other centers developed new strategies to perform haploidentical (half-matched) bone marrow transplants from parents or siblings. Since the new haploidentical immune system only genetically half-matches the original, cancers have a harder time hiding again from destruction. This graft-vs-tumor effect can be further enhanced if necessary with booster shots called donor lymphocyte infusions. However, no one reported trying trying this before in T-cell leukemia. The family bravely decided to try this new approach, in hopes that it could save their daughter’s life. 

After undergoing a haploidentical bone marrow transplant and two successive donor lymphocyte infusions, the young girl has been back in school for three years and is now free of disease. Dr. Huo and his mentors co-authored a scientific paper published in Pediatric Blood & Cancer about her cure, giving hope to other young patients faced with the same deadly dilemma.

Dr. Huo was inspired to become a physician-scientist by the doctors who saved his cousin’ life after he was diagnosed with childhood cancer. The grant from ALSF allowed him to join the faculty at Hopkins to continue his research and publish this exciting clinical works with his mentors. 

 

It is always a great time to host a lemonade stand! Here are five fast ways to make your lemonade stand a sweet success and help us raise funds for childhood cancer research! 

1. Get inspired and meet our 36 Lemonade Days Hero Reps! These 36 amazing families represent the 36 children diagnosed every school day with childhood cancer. Each  family has been affected by childhood cancer and is sharing their story, raising awareness and holding stands to support the fight. Read their stories, stop by their stands and help raise awareness about why childhood cancer research is so critical! 

2. Get your most important supply: lemonade! Use our handy formula to get just the right amount of lemonade. It takes 2 minutes to sell and serve one 8 oz cup of lemonade! To figure out how much you need, simply divide the amount of time (in minutes) that you will hold your stand by 2. Then, multiply that result by 8 oz (the average size of a cup!). For example, if you held a 60 minute lemonade stand;  you would need 30 cups and 240 ounces of lemonade. 

3. Gather your team! Lemonade stands are a blast when you have a team of friends and family involved. Enlist your baker pal to make some treats and assign your social butterfly the job of spreading the word and greeting lemonade stand customers. Tap into the talents of your friends and watch your lemonade stand grow! 

4. Decorate! Use all the great ALSF items in your stand. Also, visit our Downloads Toolkit for great printable materials that can make your stand sign. Pick up yellow and blue balloons, a bag of lemons and create homemade signs that make your lemonade stand stand-out! 

5. Plan some fun at your stand! Go beyond just lemonade and have temporary tattoos, a sour-lemon face selfie station, coloring sheets and other fun games for your kids. Check out our Pinterest page for fun craft and activity ideas.

Don’t forget to share your stand information with everyone you know. Update your stand page with all your great plans, share on social media and use the hashtag #LemonadeDays!  Plus, here are some more great lemonade stand tips for your big day. 

Haven’t planned your 2016 Alex’s Lemonade Days Lemonade Stand?  Never fear, you can sign up online for Alex’s Lemonade Days 2016 or pick any day to host a stand. 

Categories: 
lemonade stand

Pages