Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

Does it seem like the sport of running has become super popular lately? It appears as though everyone knows someone who is training for a marathon, half marathon or even a 5K to stay in shape (or perhaps prepare for the upcoming holidays and the onslaught of sweets). Some of these runners, like our Team Lemon members, take part in races not only for exercise, but also to help raise awareness of childhood cancer. We refer to it as "running for a reason." We recently received a note from Samantha, who participated in the Marine Corps Marathon last month as part of Team Lemon, who describes the range of emotions she felt as she crossed the finish line knowing that she not only accomplished an athletic feat, but also made a difference for kids with cancer:

Samantha at the finish line
...When I saw the marker for mile 26 I knew had to gut it out and finish strong. It was only a quarter mile, and my run felt like barely more than a shuffle at that point. The crowds lining the street were getting thicker, and the atmosphere was, like all race finish lines, magical. I wanted nothing more than to walk, and at that moment I thought of Alex Scott. I thought of this little girl who wanted to help others, a little girl who will never know what an impact she has had on the lives of so many. I was in pain, and I wanted to quit. As I neared the finish I saw there was one last hill. After swearing under my breath I thought there's no way I'm walking up this hill. I would finish strong for Team Lemon. I was at a near sprint as I ran past all the other runners walking up the hill and pushed hard to the finish. As I crossed the mat I felt a sob well up in my chest and had to use all of my self control to contain it. There's no way I'd let a bunch of Marines see me cry. But I had finished 26.2, and I'd finished it for a reason. Read the rest of Samantha's blog.

Speaking of running, ALSF's 5th Annual Lemon Run 5K Run/Walk & Kids' Dash was a huge success on Sunday, November 10. More than 2,500 (a record high) participants ran or walk the 3.1 mile course in Philadelphia helping to raise more than an amazing $230,000 for childhood cancer research!

Even the youngest ALSF supporters got in on the fun during the Kids' Dash!
Among the day’s highlights were a number of inspiring hero families honoring their childhood cancer heroes, as well as a kids’ 100 meter dash held prior to the 5K. Liz Scott, Alex Scott’s mom, presented awards to the fastest race finishers in each category and recognized the top fundraising teams. Brian Riggs, dad to childhood cancer hero Payton and the leader of Team Payton, spoke about how important support is for childhood cancer research in light of his daughter’s battle with neuroblastoma, which she fought at just 8 months old and who currently remains cancer free.
Brian Riggs and his wife Jennifer with daughters Payton and Jordyn.

Feeling inspired yet? Tie up those laces and pound the pavement for kids with cancer! 

Learn more about Team Lemon or The Lemon Run.

Alex in a Halloween parade 12 years ago.

Recently, when I was in Los Angeles to attend the L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonadeculinary event, my wife Liz reminded me of something our daughter Alex had said quite some time ago. In a discussion with her older brother Patrick, Alex asked him if he believed in miracles. Patrick, always the thinker (he's a sophomore at Harvard!), took pause, and instead of awaiting his reply, Alex simply piped in and said -- "I do, I mean I could wake up one day and my cancer could be gone, that would be a miracle."

Alex was right, she had battled cancer since before the age of one, and at the time of her death in 2004, she hadn't been cancer-free since diagnosis; had her cancer disappeared, it certainly would have been a miracle. But I'm not here to tell you about a miracle that saved my daughter's life; instead of I'm here to tell you about the miracle that was her life, and how her 8 ½ years of life have left an enduring impact on the lives of other children battling cancers.

Many of you have heard the story of Alex before, how she had surgery on her first birthday that left her without feeling in her legs, and how she willed herself to walk anyway; some would call that a miracle. You may have also heard that after receiving a treatment that made her feel better, Alex became determined to help doctors on their way to cures through a front yard lemonade stand. She would raise more than $1 million in her lifetime; that could be considered a miracle too. For me, the true miracle is that what Alex started in our front yard continues to make a difference today, nearly ten years after she lost her own life to the disease. Through Alex's determination to help others, she got her miracle, in the form of being a part of the cures for others.

You may recall the story of Edie Gilger, featured on CBS Sunday Morning earlier this year. Edie, like Alex, was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma before she was a year old. Despite aggressive treatment, Edie's cancer persisted and she became a candidate for a clinical trial for children harboring a specific cancer causing gene, anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). The trial tested the effectiveness of the drug crizotinib, already being used to treat lung cancer in adults to literally turn the ALK gene off, stopping the fuel for the cancer. If all goes as planned, the cancer disappears. For Edie, that is exactly what happened -- Edie now has no trace of the cancer.

For Edie, through research that was funded by the Foundation my daughter started (and other sources too), her miracle happened: She woke up one day and her cancer was gone.

Of course this treatment works for only a small number of children, with certain types of cancer; but for those children and their parents, it has made all the difference. As we ready ourselves to turn the page on yet another year, the words of my daughter reverberate in my mind; miracles are possible through hard work and determination. We are making progress on the way to finding better treatments and cures for all kids with cancer, but we have such a long way to go. Alex knew how powerful hope was, and that when there is reason, hope is a powerful thing. We shouldn't stand in its way. She believed that she would get her miracle, and although it wasn't the cure she had dreamed of for herself, her vision of helping others has been fulfilled.

I hope wherever you are, and whatever you did this year to help in the fight against childhood cancer, that you will continue that for years to come, day in and day out. After all, as Albert Einstein said:

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle."

Originally posted Jay Scott's Huffington Post blog on Oct. 25.

Aah, The Lemon Run…temperatures in the mid 80’s, tropical views, the smell of the ocean…it doesn’t quite sound like a November day in Philadelphia does it? That’s because this is what virtual Lemon Run participant Danielle Cococcia will be experiencing on November 10 in her hometown of George Town in the Cayman Islands. Although more than 2,000 of us will be pounding the pavement around beautiful Fairmount Park on November 10 in Philadelphia, we have several virtual participants that have joined the effort and are completing their own 5K (3.1 mile) run or walk where they live on November 10. In addition to Danielle and her team, Team Cayman, we also have international participation in Greece and across the U.S. from Connecticut to California!

Danielle and her family.
Danielle decided to get involved with ALSF after realizing how little awareness there is for childhood cancer research and how it’s vital to finding better treatments and cures for our heroes. By bringing The Lemon Run to her sunny island on November 10, Danielle is not only increasing awareness but she’s also doing an amazing job of raising funds – she’s already raised $300 and has set a goal to raise $1,000. Considering $50 funds one hour of childhood cancer research, this translates into much needed support for some of the best and brightest pediatric cancer researchers.

L Cpl. Tim Sullivan
Last year we had Lance Corporal Tim Sullivan, who at the time was stationed in Afghanistan, participate virtually in The Lemon Run. According to Tim..."I attended the first Lemon Run in the fall of 2009 and had a great time. I thought running virtually while serving abroad would be a cool way to still participate, fight childhood cancer and get other troops involved in something fun here in Afghanistan." 

So don’t let the geographic location of The Lemon Run deter you from participating – sign up as a virtual participant and be an integral member of Team Alex at our largest one day event to help kids with cancer everywhere.