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Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

Fresh off the Oscars buzz from earlier this week, we have some pretty exciting news about one of our most prestigious awards/grants, the ‘A’ Award. 

Back in 2009, we introduced the ‘A’ Award for young researchers as a way to jumpstart the careers of young scientists in the pediatric cancer field. Despite the possible impact that new ideas from these young scientists may ultimately have on children with cancer, these researchers conveyed to us that it’s a challenge to get funding for their projects. We believe that young researchers are integral components of finding new treatments and cures in the childhood cancer world and by providing support for their research these investigators will utilize their talents toward pediatric oncology. Hence, the ‘A’ Award was born. Since it was introduced, we’ve funded 15 of these important ‘A’ Awards and are thrilled to report that they’re helping to make important findings. 
Todd Druley, MD, PhD

Ok, so back to the exciting news…one of our first ‘A’ Award recipients, Todd Druley, MD, PhD, from Washington University in St. Louis, recently discovered through his research that babies who develop leukemia during their first year of life appear to have inherited a genetic predisposition that can make them highly susceptible to the disease.

Unlike leukemia in older children, which can often be cured, infant leukemia is very rare and more difficult to cure. Doctors have been baffled why babies that are just a few months old can develop cancer since they have not lived long enough to accumulate a critical number of cancer-causing mutations. Dr. Druley’s research has shed a bit of light on this question. His findings indicate that babies appear to have inherited rare genetic variants from both parents that by themselves would not cause problems, but in combination put the infants at high risk of leukemia. 

So, now what? Dr. Druley wants to continue to study these inherited variations and learn more about how they can lead to leukemia. The hope is that it may be possible to use a technique called genetic editing to remove the harmful gene from the DNA of infants who are susceptible to leukemia, and replace it with a healthy version of the same gene, ultimately sparing babies and their families from a devastating diagnosis. Pretty great stuff. 

Projects like Dr. Druley’s are why it’s so important that we fund these research projects – this is the kind of work your support and donations are helping to make possible. Thank you!

Read more about this research project:
Published in the journal Leukemiaread the full article

Dan and Mom Jody at The Lemon Ball.
We are deeply saddened as one of our long time childhood cancer heroes, Dan Hammond, passed away last Thursday, February 20. Dan wasn't just a childhood cancer hero, he was a young adult hero as well. After being diagnosed at age 9, Dan fought "the beast" - what he nicknamed his cancer - for 12 years. His connection to ALSF is very personal, he was one of the fortunate heroes to have actually met Alex Scott as they were being treated in the hospital at the same time. Since that first meeting, Dan became a steadfast supporter of ALSF and brightened so many events with his endearing personality, which was a unique and refreshing blend of sincerity and humor.

Dan garnered the support of people across the country most recently when a social media campaign had everyone from sports stars to actors posting photos with the phrase, "Dan's Our Man." Christian Bale even wrote the phrase on his face to pledge his support.

It's stories like this that not only sadden us, but also motivate, inspire and quite simply anger us, that this devastating disease continues to take the lives of incredible people like Dan. We need to find cures - now.

Dan, you are the man.

Aaah, love is in the air this time of year and depending where you live, so is snow, sleet and rain as this winter continues to pound us with precipitation. In any case, whether you look forward to Valentine’s Day or count the minutes until February 15 – we encourage you to do something meaningful this year to show your love not only for your loved ones, but also for kids with cancer.

We love this creative gift that put lots of smiles on the faces of some of our childhood cancer heroes recently…baseball players, Clint Robinson of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Danny Otero of the Oakland Athletics, donated credit they had with New Balance to treat some of our childhood cancer heroes with new sneakers! Some photos of our heroes with their new "kicks" are below:

Alexander Nobles, in treatment for
rhabdomyosarcoma, showing off his
new blue sneaks.
Brielle Barber, in treatment for anaplastic glioma astrocytoma,
giving the thumbs up on her new pink and gray sneakers.

Haylee Hanes, a brain tumor survivor, after wearing her
new sneakers to softball practice.

For the rest of us non-professional athletes  - we’ve included a few ideas below to spread the love this year:

  • Procrastinators, we’ve got you covered! Instead of spending $100 on flowers destined to wilt or dinner at a crowded restaurant, make a tax-deductible online donation to ALSF in your sweetheart’s name. A donation of $100 funds two hours of important childhood cancer research.

  • How about a brand new, 2015 Volvo XC60? Just $25 buys you (or your loved one) the chance to win a new Volvo that we’re raffling off. Only 3,000 tickets are being sold (great odds) and all ticket proceeds benefit ALSF. The winning ticket will be drawn at Alex’s “Original” Lemonade Stand on June 7, but you don’t need to be at the event to win. Learn more.

  • The couple that runs together, stays together! Sign up to join Team Lemon during “The Love Run”in Philadelphia on March 30. Get your heart pumping and be a part of this inaugural event in the City of Brotherly Love.

  • Consider holding a Valentine’s Day themed lemonade stand. Serve pink lemonade or even hot chocolate if it’s chilly where you live. Or, pledge to show your love by signing up to hold a stand another time of the year, like National Lemonade Days (June 6-8).
Couldn't make it to our 8th Annual Lemon Ball on January 11? Watch our new video giving a recap of the night and you'll feel like you were there!

Although the video speaks for itself, highlights of the night included:
  • An amazing Fund a Cure portion of the evening where the inspiring words of childhood cancer hero Brooke Mulford with help from fellow hero Charlotte McAuliffe and Charlotte's sister Emily, inspired guests to raise more than $100,000 in a matter of minutes.
  • Emotional award presentations from brave childhood cancer heroes to ALSF's honorees of the evening including:
    • Alex Scott Crystal Cup Recipient: Jocelyn Hillman
    • Stand Hosts of the Year: The Rissolo Family and The Taggart Family (we couldn't pick just one, so we honored both incredible families!)
    • Volunteers of the Year: Dash Wallooppillai and Family
  • Emotional words from Liz Scott (read her blog post where she recounts a recent dream she had about Alex) and an eye opening talk from Jay Scott noting the incidence of childhood cancer further emphasizing the importance of raising funds for childhood cancer research.
  • Cocktails, dessert and dancing to the sounds of Brandywine Valley Talent’s “Strangers” on a beautiful dance floor designed by Street Media allowed everyone to kick back and have fun!
All of the above culminated in nearly $900,000 being raised in just one night - incredible!

Be sure to sign up to be notified when tickets go on sale for next year's Lemon Ball on January 10, 2015!

13 year old Max Levine, during treatment for advanced, recurring neuroblastoma,  a childhood cancer. Matt Schechter and Max Levine.In April 2008, at the age of 17, Max passed away at home, surrounded by family and his beloved kitties.

In Max’s memory, we created the Max Levine Fund for Neuroblastoma Research through ALSF. Who better than ALSF to help us find the most cutting edge research into treatments and cures for the disease that took Max, and Alex Scott from us. When his best friend Matt Schechter passed away from leukemia in March 2010, we expanded the mission of the fund to include all high-risk pediatric cancers, and renamed it the M&M Fund.

Please join us in this fight. You can donate to the M&M Fund for High Risk Pediatric Cancer Research. Your donation will go directly to the battle against pediatric cancer through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.