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Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

by Ruth Ciamarra, hero mom and host of “Anna’s Lemonade Stand”

While my daughter Anna was in treatment for T Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), we spent days confined to the house. Anna had a weakened immune system and as a result of our medically necessary confinement, she officially missed an entire school year. I was looking for ways to get our family involved in doing something—anything—to help other families avoid enduring the same outcome. 

Then I saw a social media post in a cancer moms group about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). I immediately went to the ALSF site and I was happy to find ideas on how to set up a lemonade stand to raise money for better treatment options and cures for kids like Anna. 

It sounded like an easy way to have Anna and her sister host a fun event in our front yard. Anna would have easy access to our house if she might not feel well, her sister could get involved with her friends to help set up and sell, and our family could actively take part in making a difference.

As it goes with cancer, unexpected medical issues can pop up at any time. Anna spent the night before our first lemonade stand in the ER. She made it home in time for the stand and for the amazing day we had!

The materials sent to us from ALSF gave us everything we needed to get started. With the many signs, posters, donation materials, and so on, plus our own canopy tent, table, chairs, and some balloons, opening for business was easy! Neighbors, strangers, classmates, nurses from our hospital, and even an adult childhood cancer survivor stopped by our house not only to donate, but  to also ask about who Alex was, the little girl who started it all. What an amazing opportunity to share awareness about such an important cause!

The ripple effect of Anna’s Lemonade Stand spread throughout our community. Other children hosted their own stands and donated the proceeds to our event. Our school partnered with us to host a Lemonade Days stand outside of the school in a more visible location than our front yard. Additionally, the school and larger community have provided planning support, volunteers, donations of supplies and even a wooden lemonade stand! Last year, we held a classroom competition in the days leading up to the stand; we hope to continue to innovate and improve on how we can make this an annual tradition. 

For those interested in hosting a stand for the first time, here is some advice:

  • You do not need to feel overwhelmed by planning a grand event. Our own available tools and materials from ALSF was more than enough to simply and easily host our own stand and make a difference right away. If you feel comfortable, ask family or friends to help out the day of the stand. If you’re like us, you will keep running out of lemonade (a good thing!) and will need adults nearby to supervise while you run back inside to make more. 
  • Use your social media outlets and your online fundraising page well in advance of your stand if you can. So many people will want to help, even in small amounts, and this gives them an opportunity to support you remotely. 
  • Lastly, have fun! Our daughters have found so much joy, confidence, and pride in hosting these events each year. It gave them something to look forward to during one of the toughest stretches of treatment for our daughter, and it continues to be a highlight of our summer. We can’t wait to host again this year!  

Read more about Anna and her battle with ALL, here. 

Ready to get involved? You, too, can be a Lemonade Days stand host! Get the details here. 

 

 

 

Categories: 
Lemonade Days

Guest post by Elisa Cobb and Angie Aselin, 2nd Grade Teachers, Spring Texas

Every year, our principal asks our team to come up with a second-grade level philanthropy project. While brainstorming new ideas, one of our team members suggested Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF). The majority of us didn’t know much about it. As educators of 8-year-old children, it didn’t take much research to realize we had chosen our philanthropy—ALSF is all about kids helping other kids! 

We jumped in feet first not knowing what to expect—little did we know our lemonade stand would take on a life of its own! We saw our students—some of which don’t often raise their hands—become passionate in classroom discussions about doing something for the purpose of serving others. What started out as something that we feared would add to our colleagues’ already full plates became a joyous and fulfilling experience. So fulfilling and successful—we doubled our fundraising goal with the amazing support of our entire school community!

Here are the top 10 things we have found to be beneficial for hosting a successful stand!

1. Pick your date and tie it in with an existing school-wide event. This way, you know you will have more participation from your community. For example, we held our Lemonade Stand at the Spring Fling where we knew we always had a good turnout.

2. Communicate details of the event with your staff and families. We utilized the fundraising letter templates from the ALSF website to compose a letter to our students, families and faculty with details about our upcoming lemonade stand and coin collection. This is where we also included a link to the T-shirt we were going to be wearing every Friday until our event, giving students the opportunity to purchase one, too. Our students were proud to match their teachers and support the cause.

3. Read Alex and the Amazing Lemonade Stand. Each classroom teacher within our grade level read the book aloud to their students. We also had a teacher read the book aloud on our video announcements so that all 1,200 students in our school would have the opportunity to understand the cause we were raising money for. We also decided to dedicate the book to a former student in our school who was fighting cancer at the time. We had each class in the building, grades K-4, sign the book and a former teacher delivered it to the student.

4. Prepare to build your lemonade stand. One of our teachers contacted a local hardware store and they willingly agreed to donate the lumber and materials to build the lemonade stand. Her brother-in-law volunteered to build and paint it for us using the blueprint, here. 

5. Collect your supplies. As teachers, we knew we wanted to get our parents on board. There is no better way to do that than to use a website such as SignUpGenius.com or VolunteerSpot.com.  As a result, we had all of our lemonade donated to us. The first year, we asked for yellow cups from our local party store. The following year, our school purchased the printed lemonade cups from the ALSF website. 

6. Motivate your students to get involved. Anticipating that some students may not be able to participate in the actual event (because it was outside of school hours), we decided to also have a coin collection in each of our classrooms. In our school cafeteria, we put up an empty lemon tree using bulletin board paper. As students brought in coins, they received a lemon to write their name on and hang on the tree. The joy that we saw in our students' faces was priceless.  They loved that they were doing something that helped others. They were proud to put their name on that tree. The coin boxes and lemon template are all available in the Downloads section of the ALSF website.

7. Advertise the big day! We enlarged the posters that came in our stand kit and hung them around our school. We reminded students on the announcements that our big day was coming. Wearing our t-shirts every Friday leading up to the event was a big hit. We saw more and more students showing up with that bright yellow shirt on Friday leading up to the big day.  We even had some students make their own shirts!

8. Make a bulletin board. We noticed the students were getting so excited about how much money they were collecting, that we decided to make a bulletin board and graph their progress daily (it thrilled us to be able to tie in math!)  We put an empty cup on the board to start and filled it with lemons. Each lemon was worth $5. You could hear the chatter in the hallway, “We added more lemons! Look how much money we have now!”

9. Manage your stand for the day of the event. We encouraged all students to attend the event and help promote the sale of the lemonade. We even had students walking around with posters. With 250 students in 2nd grade, not everyone could be behind the stand; therefore, each teacher chose 1-2 students from their classroom to serve lemonade on the day of the event. We sent home permission slips with instructions and information for their parents.  

10. Make connections even after the stand is over.  Once the event was over we returned to our normal school routine, but we did not forget all the lessons we learned! If your school has a subscription to Reading A-Z, the book titled “How To Make Lemonade” has a blurb at the end about ALSF. Teachers live for the moments when students make real connections to their learning. If we could bottle the looks on their faces when they saw that…we could sell pure joy in a bottle.

Elisa Cobb and Angie Aselin are second-grade teachers and Lemonade Stand hosts from Spring, Texas. After hosting two successful lemonade stands, they decided to tackle the Lemon Climb Houston, where they climbed 70 flights of stairs and had the opportunity to meet Alex’s dad, Jay Scott. This dynamic duo now hosts stands at two elementary schools within their local school district.  

Want to get your school involved? Register your stand or event and learn more here. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: 
Schools

by Trish Adkins, ALSF staff writer and Hero Mom

Mothers of childhood cancer heroes learn how to do all sorts of things they never thought they would have to do: flush ports, sleep in chairs at the hospital, search for clinical trials, manage pain, entertain children in clinic waiting rooms and put on a brave face when their child is diagnosed. 

When my daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 14 months old, I was just figuring out how to be mother. Immediately, everything changed. I learned that nothing was guaranteed, except that my love for my daughter (and later, her siblings), would grow exponentially no matter what cancer threw in our path. 

One of the amazing perks of working for ALSF is the time I can spend with other hero moms. They each have their own wisdom gleaned from the frontlines of motherhood and childhood cancer. I asked each of these women how childhood cancer changed their idea of motherhood and what they learned. Here are their lessons:


1. How to Survive Change and Challenge 

“Childhood cancer changed motherhood for me because it changed my entire perspective. His diagnosis is a constant reminder that we've endured one of life's greatest challenges. When something comes along that we may find challenging, I take a breath and remember what is truly important - our family.” 

-Lisa, mom to childhood cancer hero Michael and SuperSibs Ryan and J.J. 

2. The Chance to Experience Childhood, Again 

“Survivorship has made me value motherhood so deeply! It’s been interesting to experience childhood through my daughters, because I didn’t really have one. My childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, and I had to grow up really fast. So I’m learning as I go, and that’s a gift! My girls have given me a chance to do some of the things I missed out on like hosting sleepovers, going on vacations, having friends over and playing outside with the neighborhood kids.”

-Brenna, childhood cancer hero and mom to Madelyn and Lydia 

3. Never Wait, Just Do It 

“Childhood cancer changed motherhood by demanding a superhero level of care and vigilance for my son. I never look at a fever, fatigue or any kind of illness the same way again. Even though he is a survivor, he is at risk for developing other cancers as he ages. I find myself always checking on him more than my daughters.

As for lessons... always go for the second and third opinion as needed. Trust your instinct above any medical degree. Surround your child and family with love and positivity. Plan the vacation... don’t wait, just do it. It’s a credo we still live by 11 years later.”

 -Keren, mom to childhood cancer hero Cole and SuperSibs Maggie and Maeve

4. Loving Hard is the Only Option 

“Being a mom of a childhood cancer warrior taught me to love deeper, have great empathy for all people who are faced with illness and loss and always rejoice in the present. Time is a great gift. Our children, family and friends are blessings no one should ever take for granted. You get to keep the love you shared even when your child is called home. 

I focus every day to be present and strive to be the Mom all my children deserve. I am lucky to have been chosen to be a Mom! “

-Jody, mom to childhood cancer hero Danny and SuperSibs Jackie, Stephanie, Cassey and Matt

5. What It Means to be Strong 

“Strong is the love we have for each other. Strong is the bond between a parent and child. Strong is the faith my child has in my willingness to be honest with him, to protect him to the best of my ability and ensure he receives the best medical care available. Strong is my son who is fighting this battle with courage.”

-Marla, mom to childhood cancer hero Gunner and SuperSibs Skyler, Kayla and Macy

6. The Strength of Mom Friends

“Childhood cancer made me question myself and what I didn’t notice or overlooked until I met wonderful moms who put my mind at ease and helped me to understand how to go forward. It also made me appreciate my kids' resilience and strength.”

-Lilli, mom to childhood cancer hero Morgan and SuperSibs Michael, Miles, and Mckenzie

7. It's Okay to Miss What Was

“Childhood cancer put an urgency into my motherhood and that changed me. I miss my 'before childhood cancer' motherhood every single day.”

 -Megan, mom to childhood cancer hero Declan and SuperSibs Brendan and Thomas


8. That You are Doing Your Best

"It’s the daily lessons of knowing you're doing the best for your kids even while your second guessing yourself the whole time. I never thought I could love as much as I love them.” 

-Beth, mom to Childhood Cancer Hero Cameron and SuperSibs Skye and Emma

9. To Rethink Old Truths 

“Being given a terminal diagnosis on day one as a childhood cancer mom really made me rethink every truth I held prior to that day. I went from my daughter is only 12 to 'oh my God, she will never be 13.' I thought, 'What experiences should I help her to live in these next 7-9 months?' All the things that I believed to be paramount suddenly weren’t so important after all. School for example, was her attendance that important after all? I mean did it matter that I had put so much importance on the kids being at school no matter what. Was I missing the boat or had I already missed it? Books or movies I thought were too mature based on a multitude of factors; did it really matter?”

-Deb, mom to childhood cancer hero Hope and SuperSib J.D.

10. Gratitude for Each Day

“I was a fairly 'new' mom when cancer invaded. In minutes, my life changed from the perfect family—my son with beautiful blond curls so excited about kindergarten and my daughter who emulated everything her big brother did—to asking our ER nurse to pray for my son because I couldn’t think of anything else to do and couldn’t remember how. The world of motherhood became a world of bravery, hope, love and faith… Normal no longer existed. 

From that day—July 16, 1991—forward, I cherish every single moment on earth that we have as a family. I am grateful for sunrises and the sunsets that bring the promise of a new day and the chance to offer hope to others.”    

-Anita, mom to childhood cancer hero Mike and SuperSib Morgan

11. It is All Short and Precious

“What did I learn? Don't take anything or anyone for granted. Life is short and precious. Children are strong-willed and resilient and have an amazing ability to adapt to whatever life throws at them. Live in the moment, be flexible, and make the best of things. Gather information and look at all options. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Try to be easy on yourself and your family members, everyone is just doing the best they can under the circumstances. Take time out to just have fun and enjoy life whenever possible. There is no why.”

-Aimee, mom to hero Kendall and SuperSib Zachary

Read more lessons from childhood cancer hero moms, here and here

 

 

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