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Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation Blog




We’re pretty much in awe at how the chefs on the television show "Top Chef" can whip up gourmet meals under ridiculous time constraints and with limited resources, but are even more endeared to the show as "Top Chef Masters" gives culinary all stars the chance to compete and earn money for a charity of their choice. The new season just started this past week (Wednesday, July 24 on Bravo – check your local listings) and we’re thrilled to announce that Chef Neal Fraser and his Sous Chef Jason Bowlin are competing to raise funds for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation!

We’ll be cheering on Neal and Jason, but you can also help ALSF to win a $1,000 bonus donation each week by visiting: bravotv.com/top-chef-masters and voting for Team Fraser. You can vote up to 40 times per valid phone number. Voting opens each week during the new episode and closes the subsequent Monday (so voting for this week closes Monday, July 29 at 12:00pm ET).


As you may know, ALSF has incredible support from the culinary community as chefs across the globe volunteer their time at our annual events including the recent Great Chefs Event in Philadelphia (hosted by Jeff Benjamin, Jeff Michaud and Marc Vetri), as well as upcoming events in Los Angeles and New York including L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade on September 28 (hosted by Suzanne Goin, David Lentz and Caroline Styne) and Lemon: NYC (hosted by Jonathan Waxman) on October 8. Tickets are currently on sale for both L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade and Lemon: NYC, but they sell out rather quickly so you might want to act fast!

A few chefs who have participated in our culinary events are also competing for great charities on this season’s "Top Chef Masters" including Franklin Becker, Jenn Louis and Bryan Voltaggio and we commend them for their efforts as well.

Go Team Fraser!


Neal Fraser at L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade (2012)
Franklin Becker at Lemon: NYC (2012)



by Keren Fitzgerald 
Mom to childhood cancer hero Cole Fitzgerald

I was hoping the first line of this blog was going to be… “Eureka! Cole has mastered riding his two-wheeler!” But, I would be getting ahead of myself.  


I’m sure every parent cherishes every milestone that their children achieve and we are no different. First words, first steps, potty training, first baseball game, first bike ride without training wheels, etc... None of this has come easy for my son, Cole. He is a stage 4 neuroblastoma survivor who was diagnosed at 2 and remains cancer free at 9 - an absolute blessing. And I am grateful for every day that we have his beautiful soul here on earth with us because I know he is in the minority of children surviving their disease. However, what most parents take for granted in their young child’s developmental life - we have had to hope, pray, strategize, coach, encourage and flat out fight for him to achieve. And we still have quite a road ahead of us.

The journey for every young childhood cancer survivor is a fight for normality. The fight we fought through his cancer treatment 6 years ago still echoes in our lives to this day. Survivor is a relative term. Cole bears the lifelong scars of receiving adult level chemotherapy and radiation. He lost part of his hearing at age 3 because of a specific chemotherapy drug that was part of his treatment protocol. We knew the risk going in, but the treatment decisions we made centered on saving his life and dealing with the aftermath later. He wears hearing aids full time, has an auditory processing issue and receives varying degrees of interventional services at school.   

He has some balance issues as well, due in part to a congenital hip defect, but we also know that his cancer treatment impacted balance and some cognition too. Cole has seven specialists following his care on a semi-annual basis. In every discipline from neurology, cardiology, endocrinology, ophthalmology, etc...he has a specialist that is helping him and us understand the aftermath of cancer treatment and what his future will bring.  

Schoolwork can be challenging for Cole at times, but with extra tutoring and support, he achieved honor roll four consecutive marking periods this year. Honor roll for a child who has had as much cancer treatment as Cole is an amazing accomplishment.  

We strive to treat Cole the same as his two incredibly gifted sisters who naturally excel at everything they do. The girls are a tough act to keep up with, but they provide great motivation for him. But deep down, his dad and I know that he will have struggles in his life that his sisters won’t, and we choose not to discuss them in front of Cole. Instead, we serve as his relentless cheerleaders who encourage him to do the best he can to achieve his full potential and step a little closer to the normal. In case you are wondering, there is nothing normal about any of this, but I like to say that we do the best we can and we take each day, week, month and year as it comes. Despite the bleakness of everything I’ve mentioned so far, I forgot to tell you the one thing that Cole has a result of his cancer diagnosis - resilience.   

Cole has a ‘happy-go-lucky-light-up-the-room-smile’ and personality, but don’t let that fool you. He is 51 inches of pure determination. Cole’s enthusiasm is never ending. He springs out of bed every morning with a smile and a ‘let’s go’ approach. We saw his spirit throughout his treatment - wanting to run up and down the hospital hallway while receiving his chemo, trying to spring out of bed after surgery, demanding five grilled cheeses in one day because, "he needs to grow bigger than his cancer" (his words). He is passionate about playing sports - he loves to play baseball and is working on his green belt in karate. Cole is a “yell and cheer at the TV” fan for Philly sports teams across the board. As he has gotten older, he has become fearless about speaking in front of large groups of people about his cancer journey and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (check out him presenting an award at this past year's Lemon Ball). He is passionate about hosting lemonade stands, just like Alex was, because he is compelled to give back to the kids who have not been as lucky as he.    

So back to the bike riding...Cole was honored to lead off last year’s inaugural Lemon Ride as he proudly called to the riders, “Gentlemen, start pedaling!” in a megaphone that he so wanted to take home with us.  (No, that did not happen thankfully!)   

He had been riding a small bike with training wheels for some time, but had been struggling to master two wheeled riding. He told me last year that he was going to learn how to ride for this year’s Lemon Ride so we bought him a brand new ‘crank-forward’ bike… no ordinary department store bike. After assessment at two different bike stores and a ton of online research, we purchased a bike that would help Cole ride successfully despite his hip and balance issues. He has been practicing since the weather broke, took a break for baseball season and is now back at it. 

 As I type this, he is still working on it. Right now he can sit on and pedal/coast the bike, but we are working on starting, stopping, not crashing and staying on the bike. So we’re not exactly riding independently just yet. I’m out there with him trying to be the cheerleader, but it is tough watching him struggle. I’m not giving up and just when he is about to, I remind him of all he’s overcome to date - and to his credit, he keeps trying. I don’t think either of us is ready to give up. For him, I know he wants to ride independently with his friends. For me, I refuse to let his cancer take one more thing away from him.
    
So we’ll keep on helping Cole with his bike riding this week, I’m not sure where we will land for this Sunday’s Lemon Ride. He may be riding solo, he may be on a tandem with one of us or we may just put his training wheels back on and strive for next year’s Lemon Ride. We have a small but mighty team this year, The Fightin’ Fitzgeralds, and we will be riding in the 4 mile family ride. Either way, we’ll keep cheering Cole and the other survivors who will be out there with us and continuing to reach for the normal. 


Why we fund research - so heroes like Ellie Bloechl can say "goodbye" to childhood cancer.

Have you heard the great news? Thanks to your amazing support, ALSF recently awarded $7 million in medical research grants to scientists searching for new cures and better treatments for kids with cancer. That’s $7 million that you have helped us to raise by holding or donating to a lemonade stand, attending one of our fun special events, donating through a sponsors’ campaign, making an online donation, running a race as part of Team Lemon, or by supporting the Foundation in another way. Every dollar counts and case in point - these dollars certainly add up.


These grants were awarded to doctors and researchers, at 24 institutions and universities in 14 states across the country, totaling 42 new grants. This brings us to a total of more than 340 pediatric cancer research projects that ALSF has funded across the U.S. and in Canada. That being said, no matter where the research is conducted, when better treatments and cures are found – our childhood cancer heroes everywhere can benefit.


We don't just fund research in a variety of geographic locations, but also across a variety of types of childhood cancer. Unlike many types of adult cancer, childhood cancer is comprised of more than 20 subtypes, which adds to the challenge of finding effective treatments for each and every one of these subtypes. Following in the footsteps of our founder Alex who simply stated that, “all children want their tumors to go away,” this latest round of grant funding supports projects focusing on several types of childhood cancer including acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, brain tumors, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), glioblastoma, neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma, osteosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, sarcoma, and more


The complete list of grants that were recently awarded is below, so remember - the next time you see an Alex’s Lemonade Stand in your area or if you’re thinking about making a donation to ALSF, you can feel confident that your contributions are helping us get one step closer to finding cures for all kids with cancer.  

THANK YOU!


Innovation Awards 2013


Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Nabil Ahmed, M.D.
Multispecific T Cells for Adoptive Immunotherapy of Pediatric High Grade Glioma(HGG)


Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Stephen Gottschalk, M.D.
Engager T cells for the Adoptive Immunotherapy of Pediatric Malignancies


Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, West Hollywood, CA
Sandra Orsulic, Ph.D.
An Intersection of Cell Metabolism and Differentiation in Childhood Sarcoma
 

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH




Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Charles Roberts, M.D., Ph.D.
Therapeutically Targeting a Tumor Suppressor Complex in Aggressive PediatricCancers


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
***Loren Walensky, M.D., Ph.D.
Reactivating Apoptosis in Refractory Pediatric Cancer by Molecular Inhibitionof MCL-1




Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA
James Chen, Ph.D.
Next-Generation Therapies for Hedgehog Pathway-Dependent Tumors


***Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
David Langenau, M.D.
Novel Therapeutic Targets in Relapse T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia


Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL
Richard Longnecker, Ph.D.
An Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus Restricted in Entry to Neuroblastoma Cells


Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Canada
William Foulkes, M.D., Ph.D.
DICER1, MicroRNAs and Pediatric Cancer: An Emerging Story


St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
Michael Dyer, Ph.D.
Novel Targeted Therapies for Rhabdomyosarcoma



***The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Garrett M. Brodeur, M.D.
Nanoparticle Delivery of Therapeutic Agents in Neuroblastomas


The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Michael D. Hogarty, M.D.
Epigenetic Characterization of the Neuroblastoma Driver Genes ARID1A and ARID1B


University of California at Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Camilla Forsberg, Ph.D.
Defining the Role of a Novel, Developmentally Restricted Hematopoietic StemCell in Pediatric Leukemias




University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Nadia Dahmane, Ph.D.
Mechanisms Regulating Medulloblastoma Progression


University of Texas, Houston, TX
Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.
Pre-Clinical Testing of T cells Coded with CARs for DIPG


Young Investigator Awards 2013

Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX
Jason T. Yustein, M.D., Ph.D.
Dissecting and Targeting the Wnt Signaling Pathway in Metastatic Osteosarcoma


Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston, MA
Glenn MacLean, Ph.D.
Genetic Dissection of Trisomy 21-TMD Using Human Pluripotent Stem Cells


Children’s Hospital Boston, Boston, MA
Samantha Morris, Ph.D.
Investigating the Role of Circadian Rhythm in the Progression of Acute MyeloidLeukemia


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Hao-Ru Jessie Hsu, Ph.D.
The Role of Prmt1 in Osteosarcoma Initiation and Metastasis



Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Andrew A. Lane, M.D., Ph.D.
Histone Modification and Hmgn1 Overexpression as Drivers of B-ALL with Polysomy21


**Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
Shizhen Zhu, M.D., Ph.D.
The Role of PTPRD as a Tumor Suppressor in Neuroblastoma Pathogenesis




Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA
Heather Helton, M.D.
Genomic Alterations in ETV6 Predict Outcome in Pediatric AML


**Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA
Cigall Kadoch, Ph.D.
Reversing the Oncogenic Roles of Misdirected Chromatin Remodeling in SynovialSarcoma


Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA
Jun Ni, Ph.D.
Oncogenic Hedgehog Pathway Activation by a Putative Rho GTPase-ActivatingProtein


Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Jessica Blackburn, Ph.D.
PRL3 as a Novel Therapeutic Target for Relapsed T-cell Acute LymphoblasticLeukemia


Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL
Takahisa Kanekiyo, M.D., Ph.D.
LRP1 and Angiogenesis in Pediatric Malignant Glioma


**Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
Charalambos Kaittanis, Ph.D.
Multifunctional Nanomaterials for the Prevention of Radiotherapy's Side Effectsand Childhood Cancers


St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
Kathryn Roberts, Ph.D.
Genetic Profiling and Experimental Modeling of High-risk Acute LymphoblasticLeukemia


The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Robert Schnepp, M.D., Ph.D.
Defining the Mechanism by which LIN28B acts as an Oncogene in Neuroblastoma


The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
Brian Ladle, M.D., Ph.D.
Epigenetic Regulation of T cell Activation and Immunotherapy


University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Miller Huang, Ph.D.
Characterization of the Role of Chromosome 1p Deletion in MYCN-AmplifiedNeuroblastoma


University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Erin Simonds, Ph.D.
Targeted Inhibition of Signaling Networks in Pediatric Glioblastoma Stem Cells


University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Jennifer Kalish, M.D., Ph.D.
Dissecting the Mechanism of Overgrowth and Tumorigenesis in Beckwith-WiedemannSyndrome


**Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Laura Schuettpelz, M.D., Ph.D.
The Regulation of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Function by Granulocyte-ColonyStimulating Factor


Epidemiology Awards 2013


The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
Richard Aplenc, M.D.
Clinical Epidemiology Studies in Children's Oncology Group Clinical Trials


University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Anand Chokkalingam, Ph.D.
Role of Fetal Growth in Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma


Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Kimberly Johnson, Ph.D.
Identification of Risk Factors for Pediatric Brain Tumors in a High RiskPopulation

**denotes award funded by Northwestern Mutual
*** denotes award partially funded by the Cure4Cam Childhood Cancer Foundation

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