Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

Many of you know Alex as a courageous cancer advocate, a hero, the lemonade girl who was an inspiration to millions around the world. To us, she was all of these things but so much more…We would like to share with you the Alex we knew…our beloved little girl.

From the beginning, Alex did things her way – she came into the world in a hurry 13 ½ years ago, arriving more than a month before her due date. The doctor and nurse prepared us for the fact that she would probably be underweight and would most likely have to stay at the hospital for a few extra days – well, we were all surprised when she weighed in at 7 lbs. 2 oz and left the hospital with us 24 hours later. Looking back, we should have known right then that there was something special about our girl…

  • Alex was bright and smart. She had a vast knowledge of medical terms and kept close track of her medications. She always knew the names and dosages of her medications, as many as 6-8 pills at a time. She always checked on us. Alex often surprised us by knowing unusual facts…For example, she was quick to offer an accurate explanation of what a ficus plant was to her older brother Patrick when he came across the word and wondered aloud what it was; she would sometimes chime in with a solution to a tricky math or word problem; and she seldom came across a word that she did not know the meaning of.

  • Alex was protective. So much so that she earned herself the nickname “mother.” Her constant watching over of her brothers and us was most often accompanied by loads of advice, phrased in an adorable way, “I really don’t think I would do that if I were you…” or “Do you think that is such a great idea?” or, our favorite, “ I’ve told you a million times not to do that!”

  • Alex was determined. When her younger brother Joey was born someone sent us a baby swing. As we tried to put the swing together, we got very frustrated because there were no directions included. We left the room, giving up on putting it together. When we returned to the room some time later Alex had the swing put together. She said “I just need a screwdriver to tighten the screws.” When we asked how she managed to put it together she responded -“you should never give up, it’s never good to give up”

  • Alex was funny. One of her aunts visited shortly before Alex passed away and we were trying to pick a movie to watch as a family. Her aunt recommended a movie but then quickly said, “Actually I don’t think it is a good idea.” When Alex asked her why she had changed her mind her Aunt said, “Well, it is kind of depressing.” Alex immediately turned to look at her and said “trust me, I can handle depressing.”

  • Alex was confident. She believed she could do anything; even it was a physical challenge or an obstacle to overcome. She often said that if she could just get an audition for American Idol, she could definitely make it into the top 10. She was also confident that she was capable of defending herself and others against any dangers, after all, she would say, “I know karate.”
  • Alex was courageous. Despite often struggling with pain, fatigue, and other side effects, Alex rarely complained. As a matter of fact, about two weeks before she died Alex told us, very emphatically, after hearing us respond to another inquiry about how she was feeling – “Tell them I am fine. I am fine.” She showed this courage everyday, insisting that she was fine, always telling us not to worry about her.

  • Alex was wise. Several years ago we gave her the suggestion that she might want to try walking with the help of crutches because it might allow her to get around faster. Without hesitation she said “Haven’t you ever heard the story of the tortoise and the hare?” Then she said, with a smirk on her face, “slow and steady wins the race.”

  • Alex was thoughtful and kind. She was generous with brothers, friends, and other children she met at the hospital. Alex also made sure that special occasions were celebrated the right way. She also made sure they included a special gift from her ~ earrings on Mother’s Day, a framed photo on Father’s Day, a stuffed hand-knit cat she made for her baby brother Joey’s first birthday, and homemade party hats for the whole family for another brother’s birthday.

  • Alex was a girl with plans –– she was looking forward to showing her baby brother around Philly; she was determined to attend the first day of third grade, and shortly before she passed was asking about getting a motorized wheelchair so she could keep up with her friends; She planned on learning how to swim, cross stitch, and walk again.

  • Alex was a girl with her own dreams – She wanted to be a world traveler and she dreamed of going to the Grand Canyon and to Paris. She dreamed of attending college but living in an apartment so she could have as many pets as she wanted; she promised her brother Eddie that, even though she wouldn’t let him live with her when they grew up as he suggested, he could visit as much as he wanted as long as he called first. She wanted to marry her prince charming and have a family, she even put her plans of becoming an astronaut on hold because she thought she would miss her kids too much on her long trips to outer space.

  • Alex was a girl who dreamed for others – She believed that she could make a difference for kids with cancer by selling lemonade. She knew that, with the help of others, she could raise a million dollars for the cause. She dreamed that one day there would be a cure for all children with cancer.

  • Alex was an inspiration – Her bravery and composure throughout her life inspired all of us to be stronger, better people. Her efforts to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer, while she fought so terribly against her own cancer, inspired all of us to help her cause. Her love of life inspired all of us to love our lives.

  • Alex was loved. Loved by us. Loved by her brothers, Patrick, Eddie, and Joey. Loved by her Grandparents. Loved by her Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Loved by her friends. Loved by her Doctors and Nurses. Loved by people everywhere who were inspired by her will to live.

So many times, we have heard people say that Alex “lost her battle with cancer.” We believe that this could not be farther from the truth. Alex won her battle in so many ways…by facing her cancer everyday but still managing to smile; by making the most of every moment; by never giving up hope; by living life to the fullest; and by leaving an incredible legacy of hope and inspiration for all of us.

We are proud of her; We love her; We are grateful for her life; We miss her everyday.

- Liz and Jay Scott, Alex's Parents

K12 is the Leader in Online Education, providing students all across the country with opportunities to excel both in and out of the classroom. One event we look forward to each year is Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s National Lemonade Days as it’s the perfect way for our students to help out in the community, think beyond themselves and step outside of their comfort zones to help others. Tyler’s story in GA says it all!

Tyler Sakelarios is a third grader in Georgia Virtual Academy. He decided he wanted to host a lemonade stand for ALSF and help other kids. His mother said it was a wonderful learning experience for Tyler to speak with strangers and explain what ALSF is and where the donations go.

“He is very loving and caring, and enjoyed taking part in something so important,” his mother said.

Tyler and his mom hosted their stand in a park on Saturday, June 13, 2009 where they raised $350! But first, Tyler and his parents had to go before the city council in Richmond Hill, Georgia to get approval to host the stand in the city park. Tyler was very impressed and got to learn a little of how government works. He stood before city council to tell why he would host the stand, who he was helping and they were all so impressed. The mayor of the city of Richmond Hill, Richard Davis, came out and had lemonade, and Tyler remembered he was the mayor...we got his picture with Mayor Davis. Also, a reporter from the Bryan County News was there to interview Tyler, and he made front page news on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009. It is an experience we will all remember and cherish forever. We look forward to next year’s stands!

- Dominique Dupras, K12 Events Manager
Jay Scott discussing how to build awareness of childhood cancer.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer recently held our very first Symposium on childhood cancer. The day was a great success, and a learning experience for all involved. Below are two accounts from parents who attended the event.

Sue Levine, mother of Max Levine

I signed up for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Childhood Cancer Symposium with some trepidation. After all, I no longer had a child in treatment, as my son Max had died in April of 2008, after a six and a half year battle with neuroblastoma. What could I possibly learn at such an event?

As it turns out…I learned quite a lot. The speakers were truly wonderful and offered a lot of important information and support. The discussions were lively, and for me, empowering. It had been a long time since I was someplace where there were other parents dealing with the issues that I had dealt with for so long. It was the first time I was with other parents who had lost their children to cancer. I learned that a lot of what I had been feeling was normal and that the difficult situations that I still encounter were faced by other parents. Guided by some terrific professionals, we shared our experiences and talked about what worked and what didn’t. Even during lunch, we were able to share our stories with one another.

It was a day well-spent with wonderful people and outstanding professionals who were able to guide us through the unique situations faced by parents of children with cancer. I am VERY thankful to ALSF for planning and executing such a wonderful event. I look forward to next year’s symposium!

A. Kim Ritchey, MD, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
'Treatment of Childhood Cancer - Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow'

Ellen Hanson, mother of Sean Hanson

We recently had the pleasure of attending the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Symposium on childhood cancer. We took the train from Providence, the conductor remembered us from previous trips to Sloan Kettering when Sean was little. The Alex’s Lemonade shirts and hats may have given us away! We thought we would do some advertising and advocate for childhood cancer awareness on the ride.

I thought the Symposium was fantastic, I really enjoyed it. I learned more about PTSD (Posttraumatic stress disorder), which I definitely have and lots more about cancer past, present and future. It is always interesting to hear questions from other parents after the lectures. It was great to meet families that we had talked to online for years, but had never met. I also met many new families with kids with other types of cancer.

The kid’s room was great. They had Wii set up, legos, crafts of all kinds and a magic show. My kids did not want to leave. Everyone got to know one another and the kids played so nicely together. We sat with different folks at each meal and got to just spend some time chatting with other families.

Everyone got to stay up late enjoying more lemon Rita’s water ice, which we don’t have at home. In the morning we had breakfast with our new friends. Thanks to everyone at Alex’s for putting on such a fantastic symposium. It was their first and I was very impressed!
Great news – thanks to all of our supporters, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer has been named the number 1 cause on Twitter! For a three week period beginning on June 15, thousands of people on twitter voted for their favorite cause. Out of 53 causes, ALSF won!

@Top10Causes will now work hard to promote, raise awareness and support the new Top 10 Causes on Twitter via Twitter, Facebook, Blog, and their website. Check it out here:

As you can tell, ALSF is well on our way to breaking into the social media world, but we still need your help. ALSF is also part of another contest - this one has an amazing reward – a $25,000 social media makeover! Will you help us win? Vote below!

Finally – we hope you all have a great 4th of July weekend, and if you aren’t following us on twitter, or our other social media outlets, make sure to join today!

Coming next week…Childhood Cancer Symposium – in the words of attendees!

As our biggest month of the year winds down (we are still looking forward to our very first Childhood Cancer Symposium this weekend, click here for information), we are anxiously awaiting the submission of grant applications for the 2009 Nursing Grants and a brand new and exciting addition. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is proud to announce a new grant category to our already prestigious line up, the “A” Award. You may be thinking this is a play on words, and why not, after all, “A” is for Alex.

Following in the footsteps of the Young Investigator Awards, the “A” Award is designed for young scientists to jump start their careers in pediatric oncology research. It is also intended to keep them there! It is no secret that childhood cancer needs more researchers to focus on finding cures and causes for the disease, and this grant’s purpose is to do just that, draw more researchers into the field.

One of the most exciting aspects of this grant is that the funding will cover three years of research. Currently, all other ALSF awards are given two years of funding. Additionally, the “A” Award will be the largest given the by the Foundation, totaling $375,000. Another bonus – the award will grant the researchers exclusive access to ALSF’s Scientific Advisory Board for periodic consultation, as well as reference books to enhance the researcher’s pediatric library.

ALSF is proud of the progress that has been made through our grant program since inception in 2005, and we are equally excited to continue taking leaps and bounds toward the cures we are so desperately seeking. The “A” Award is an important component in the continuation of this progress, and we can’t wait to accept applications and see where their work will lead.

For more information on the “A” Award and the current grant applications ALSF is accepting, click here.
Jay and Liz Scott with Bobby Flay

Hi everyone, we hope this finds you well. As you can imagine, the entire staff at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, as well as all of our wonderful volunteers, are recovering from a very busy week and a half of lemonade activities. We had another successful Lemonade Days weekend, including Alex’s Original, the Philadelphia CBS 3 telethon, and so much more. We wanted to take this opportunity to share our experience from the event that culminated the festivities – the Great Chefs Event.

Held every year at Osteria restaurant in Philadelphia, the Great Chefs Event gets better and better every year. For the 2009 event, we once again had the immense pleasure of being joined by Tom Colicchio, judge of Bravo’s Top Chef, and welcomed Bobby Flay and Michael Symon from the Food Network, for the very first time. There were over 20 chefs there in total from all corners of the country, and even the globe as one chef traveled all the way from Italy for the event! How amazing that all these chefs came together to raise funds for the battle against childhood cancer.

When we arrived this year, we were pleased to see that the entire southbound block in front of Osteria was tented. We anticipated having over 650 guests, so this offered a great deal of additional space for attendees to walk around and mingle. The tents also kept us all dry when the rain occasionally snuck in for a few minutes, but with all the amazing food, chefs and guests, we hardly noticed the rain. There were many highlights of the night, including the participation of Cameron Robertson and Sally Ekus, two childhood cancer survivors and our heroes. Additionally, the live auction this year was especially exciting. With several great items already included (a week’s trip to Italy, seats in Chase Utley’s box & more), it was a huge surprise when Bobby Flay popped up on stage and offered to cook dinner for six in his New York City apartment! How cool is that? The item went for well over $10,000.

Sue Torres, Suenos, New York

The 2009 Great Chefs Event was a huge success, and one that we will not soon forget. We will keep you updated with a final tally from the night, but we are sure that significant funds in the battle against childhood cancer were raised. A special thanks to Jeff Benjamin and Marc Vetri who coordinated the entire event. We seriously couldn’t do it without them, they are the glue that keeps this event together, and we can’t wait to see where this event takes us.

On Saturday, June 6th, two of my colleagues and me set up our very first Alex’s Lemonade Stand as part of our company's (Royal Bank of Scotland) "One Week in June" volunteer project. In March of this year, we had looked at a few charities and decided that ALSF seemed like something we should be a part of. From the very beginning I decided that we needed more than a table to peddle our lemonade, and became determined to build a proper stand for big and little kids alike! The unique problem presented was that we needed something that could be easily taken apart and transported in a compact car to Central Park from my 3rd floor walk up in Brooklyn. Even though it was for a great cause, I must admit that somewhere deep-down, I wanted an excuse to make a scavenger hunt out of weekly visits to Home Depot while putting my tools to good use.

On my first visit to one of my local Home Depot’s, I hit the jackpot in the discounted scrap wood pile. Not many people know about this tiny section in the store with odd cuts of wood that may have just what you need. The huge heavy piece I needed for the tabletop was right there, already cut for me and a steal at about $3. Then laying nearby I spotted a discarded pallet cut into four even pieces."Could I use these scraggly awful scraps for legs?" I wondered. Home Depot let me have them for free and with a few hinges to make it all collapsible, my folding city stand began to take shape later that afternoon. Subsequent trips were not as fruitful and the small odds and ends I was looking for began to become elusive. Eventually, every piece I had been looking for found its way into my hands and by the late evening of June 4th my stand was ready for her close-up!

The next morning I shot an email and picture to ALSF just to show them what to look for on Saturday. I really didn't think much of it and felt I had only just built a stand that would pay homage to Alex's original own stand that I had seen in pictures. To my amazement, ALSF replied right away requesting me to bring it down for a segment on the Fox News Channel that Sunday morning with the Scott family. I could have never imagined when I was slapping the last drops of paint on my stand the night before that it would be put to such use! But now I'm getting ahead of myself...

Saturday at Central Park was the time and place where we hoped we could accomplish the most with what we had. Of all the dates and locations we could choose from on the map of NYC, I decided that the area by Columbus Circle near the entrance to Central Park would have the most potential for high traffic. Our gamble paid off, as not only did we sell about 17 gallons of both pink and yellow lemonade, we also had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world while introducing them to ALSF. Some of them knew about ALSF, others learned about it that day and others simply wanted a cold glass of lemonade on a warm June afternoon. There were so many distinct “only in New York” characters. One of the most memorable was the new bride and groom who had their first toast in front of our stand. In all, we managed to take in $575 for ALSF while having a blast on a gorgeous day.

The following morning, I had no idea what to expect. I didn't have much information to go on as the people at Fox News just told me to bring the stand down to their studio on 48th and 6th at 7:30am and not much else. Luckily, since it was so early when I arrived, there was parking right were I needed to be and I wouldn't have to lug the stand very far from my car. The producer from FN told me where to set up and it was ready to go in less than five minutes, which left me about an hour to hang in suspense to see how this panned out. My major fear was that my stand would collapse on national TV, become a viral video on YouTube and blacklist me from ALSF forever! As the clock ticked down to show time, I paced around and watched the star ("Wildman" Steve Brill) of the earlier segment pitch his penchant for recipes for food found in the wild. He's apparently known as "The Man Who Ate Central Park.” After what was probably no more than ten minutes but felt like an eternity, the producer led out Alex's Mom, Liz, and her younger bother, Eddie, out to the stand to set it up with lemonade and assorted ALSF items. After they welcomed me, the rest of the Scott family soon followed to shoot their live segment for "Fox & Friends". The Scotts were impressed with my "city stand" that could fold up to adapt to the needs of the city. Seeing them putting my stand to use blew my mind. I suppose I get it from my Dad, there's just nothing he can't do with his two hands, so it made me proud knowing he saw my work on what happens to be his favorite channel. Meeting Liz, Jay, Patrick, Eddie and Joey capped my brief yet incredible weekend with ALSF. I seriously have never met such a warm and dedicated family. Meeting them has only reinforced my desire to work with ALSF on future events.

-Roland Aviles

On November 5, 2004, our world was turned upside down as the doctors told us that our eleven-month old daughter, Grace, had cancer. She was diagnosed with a stage III Wilm’s Tumor and underwent surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. We are blessed with wonderful family and friends who supported us through this ordeal, as well as talented and compassionate doctors, nurses and staff at the Georgetown University Hospital, who helped Grace and our family. Grace is now a happy and healthy 5-year-old little girl who is about to graduate from kindergarten next week! She has been cancer-free for four years, and anyone who meets her today is shocked to hear that she was ever sick.

In the summer of 2006, our older daughter, Abby, learned about Alex Scott and Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Abby had just turned 5 at the time and told us that she wanted to host an Alex’s Lemonade Stand so she could help other kids like Grace. With the help of some friends, we set up our first stand in the summer of 2007 on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The girls raised $550 in one day! In the summer of 2008, Abby, Grace & their friends hosted three more stands and raised a total of about $2,000 from those stands. They have so much fun hosting the stands and telling all of the customers about Alex Scott’s story and about Grace being a survivor. They love showing off Grace’s scar across her belly!

This past Saturday, May 16, 2009, we hosted our fifth stand and have been touched by the outpouring of support from our friends and community. Over the winter, some friends thought it would be great to build us a proper lemonade stand (instead of us using a folding table). So they solicited donations from local organizations and businesses. The stand they built for us is a child’s dream lemonade stand! Knowing that we have such support from the community helps us and the kids keep up the energy when they get tired during the day. Having the new lemonade stand drew more attention for the girls and this great cause. The children raised more than $1,000 from this stand. We are so proud of Abby, Grace and all of their friends who helped out (Karli, Leo, Maeve, Elena and Isabelle).

What also made the stand on May 16th very special was that Alex’s aunt, uncle and cousin were in Rehoboth for the weekend and happened upon our stand! They introduced themselves and posed for pictures with us and our stand. It was a very special moment for Abby, Grace and Karli, who were all working very hard at the stand that day.

Thank you to Joe Maltese and Rich Doyle at Atlantic Cabinetry Corporation, who built the stand and Tom Benton painted the stand; UNICO Rehoboth Area Chapter (Italian-American group), who supplied the cost of the materials for the stand; the Sherwin-Williams Company, who donated the paint and painting supplies; Joe & Bernie Polinski, who came up with the idea and did all of the design and construction management for the project; and Richard Latham and Barbara Crowl, who painted the custom murals and lettering for the stand. We also want to thank the Rehoboth Toy & Kite Store and Go Fish Restaurant for allowing us to host our stands in front of your businesses.

- Julie Bucklin, Grace’s mom

As we quickly approach our busy time at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, we have had the privilege of “gearing up” in a different way this year. Kenny Herriot, a world class wheelchair athlete has been trekking across the country to raise awareness for childhood cancer. A taxing ride for anyone, we cannot even begin to imagine the physical stamina it must take to ride nearly 100 miles every day for over a month! We are so grateful for all that he is doing, and are impressed by his motivation and dedication to helping raise awareness of our cause.

It wasn’t long ago that Liz received a call from a woman proposing a one-of-a-kind partnership. Her name was Penne English, someone who we have come to build a great relationship with, and she was representing a Scottish hero named Kenny Herriot. Herriot is a world class wheelchair athlete who holds numerous records in Scotland. Kenny had decided long ago that he wanted to cycle across the United States, and when the opportunity presented itself, he decided to make the journey even more special by partnering with a charity. Unfamiliar with US charities, Kenny left Penne with the task of presenting him with candidates. Penne lives in Georgia, and lucky for us, she chose Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation as one of the charities to suggest. Kenny was immediately drawn to our cause, with children of his own, he said he couldn’t imagine having them go through a battle against cancer. After discussing the event, we of course agreed to work with Kenny to spread the word about what he is doing. We have been part of team Kenny, and he has been part of Team Alex, ever since!

Kenny’s ride got underway in the late weeks of April, starting at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. His journey would quickly take him through Nevada, Utah, Colorado and he is currently cycling through Kansas. There have certainly been trials along the way, starting with the RV he and his team are traveling in breaking down. In order to stay on course, and on schedule, Kenny decided to continue his ride without the RV and the rest of his team. Though he did get a little lost without them, they were able to catch up with him that same day. The next bump in the road would be a little more threatening as Kenny’s own cycle had problems in Montrose, Colorado. It was the same day that Big O Tires, one of our great supporters, would hold a reception for him. Kenny made it to the destination and the reception, was interviewed by TV and radio outlets in Montrose, and luckily the next day was able to get his cycle ready to go.

With all these obstacles, Kenny has never lost motivation or dedication to the ride and our cause. We are continuously amazed with how he and his team handle the hurdles thrown their way. Not only are they on schedule, but they get up every morning, start the day’s trek, and share their stories with us. We cannot wait to meet up with Kenny and his team in a few cities as he gets closer to his destination, and hope to throw our own large event when he comes through Philadelphia. In the meantime, keep up with Kenny, Penne and their driver John as they cross the country here:

Kayla, now 6-years-old, was diagnosed with High Risk Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in June 2007. Since the time of diagnosis, we have been told over and over again to make life "as normal as possible,” for Kayla. This advice has come from doctors, family, friends, and even other parents of childhood cancer fighters. We have discovered that this is nearly impossible to do when you have other children to tend to as well as your sick child. Kayla has an older brother Shawn, 15, and a little sister Ava, who is almost 3.

For Kayla, we have tried to keep things “normal” by letting her continue with dance class, attend school and play like the other children, but there is a sense of "non-normalcy" for our two other children. Shawn and Ava are witness to Kayla’s spotlight, so to speak. Kayla’s story and photos have been posted on many websites, and she has been a part of a program called ChemoAngels, which sends cards, letters and gifts to the ill child. Every time Kayla gets a card, letter, gift, is honored, or has a function held in her name, I feel as though our other children may feel less important. I wish there was more support for the siblings of cancer patients, because they have to go through so much. Although they don't have to go to countless clinic visits, hospitalizations, or receive chemotherapy, they do have to witness these things and I think they get tired of being in the background.

We have tried to make sure that they know they are special and loved just as much as Kayla, and that her treatment is ending soon (October 2009). In reality though, Kayla will have to continue to be seen in the clinic monthly for blood tests, will have to go to the hospital for fevers and she will still be watched closer than a normal child. Instilling normalcy has been a very difficult task for our family.

Written by Susan Danzi, Kayla’s Mother