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Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog

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:

http://blog.thegreatlemonride.com/

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

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