by Allie Neenan, founding co-President of the Dallas Lemon Club at the University of Texas
For the past three years, I have been a leader of the Dallas Lemon Club at the University of Texas (UT). We are a group of students from varied backgrounds with a common goal: curing childhood cancer. I learned about the club from its founder, my classmate and dear friend, Usman. I never heard of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation before meeting Usman, but his passion for this cause was contagious. Alex's legacy has that effect on people.
When the club was formed, none of us had experience with large-scale fundraising and my first lemonade stand was far from perfect. My team and I mistakenly reserved a space in one of the most deserted buildings on campus, and while setting up we accidentally knocked our lemonade pitcher onto the floor. Needless to say, we knew that we had a long way to go toward hosting stands like the ones Alex and her family have hosted, but giving up was never an option.
Since then, the Lemon Club at UT Dallas has raised nearly $7,000 for ALSF, with our largest annual fundraiser drawing over 400 attendees this past March. As a recent graduate of UT Dallas, I continue to spread awareness for childhood cancer research among everyone that I meet and work with. Students are particularly important in the fight against childhood cancer because they support the heroes in their community in a direct and powerful way. I hope that by sharing some of the things that I have learned as a Lemon Club President, I can inspire other students to bring this wonderful program to their campus.
1. Lead like Alex
Alex Scott fought tirelessly for years until she reached the goal of raising a million dollars for research. As the Foundation's motto states, we are "fighting childhood cancer, one cup at a time." Maintaining this philosophy is key as a Lemon Club leader. By working all school year long, students can make an incredible amount of connections on even the largest campus. Our average donation size is less than $5, but through consistent fundraising we raised over $3,000 this past school year (enough to fund 60 hours of research!).
2. Serve Free Lemonade
We have found that offering free lemonade helps us catch our classmates' attention and educate them about our cause. The vast majority of students who attend our stands ultimately choose to donate because they recognize the critical need for more research.
3. Celebrate Your Supporters
Advertising via social media is a great way to promote an event, and one of the best ways to do this is to thank your donors publicly. People love to share posts where they are recognized for their efforts and we have found this to be one of the best ways to spread awareness of our events.
Lemon Club leaders can inspire other students to make a lifelong commitment to ending childhood cancer. Through the Lemon Club, students have the opportunity to engage a broad range of people and resources (e.g. students, teachers, community and forums) about the need for funding childhood cancer research projects. ALSF’s Lemon Clubs plan and execute on and off campus fundraisers for the duration of their school year. Lemon Club chapters are encouraged to host a variety of awareness and fundraising events to help spread the mission of ALSF and to meet their fundraising goals. Be sure to learn more about how you can start a Lemon Club at your school!
Allie Neenan served as President of the UT Dallas Lemon Club for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. She will go on to earn her PhD in Clinical Psychology and hopes to pursue a career in pediatric psychosocial oncology.