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#PlayItForward Spotlight on Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation

Earlier this month we launched our exclusive, give-back Unicorn Van. For every van sold we will donate $1 to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a deeply inspiring organization working to support families navigating childhood cancer. We are honored to partner with ALSF and are extremely grateful for the life-changing impact they make every day. We spoke to Liz Scott, Alex's mom and the Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, to learn more about ALSF and the extraordinary work they are doing. 

Alex's story and the origin of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation is deeply moving and inspiring. Tell us a little bit about Alex and how ALSF came to be.

It all started with a front yard lemonade stand. My daughter, Alex, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, before her first birthday. After four years of treatment and right before her fourth birthday, Alex received a new treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. After this treatment she felt a lot better and told me “ I want to have a lemonade stand”.  This was early in the year and so we kept pushing her off until warmer weather, but she was persistent. Finally, I asked her what she wanted to buy so badly, and Alex told me she didn’t want to keep the money, she wanted to give the money to doctors that allow them to “help other kids, like they helped me”. Even at age 4, Alex knew that money was important for funding research into treatments. We held her first stand in July of 2000  and she raised an amazing $2,000 for “her hospital”. Alex continued to hold her lemonade stand each year and in early 2004 she told a reporter that she wanted to raise $1 million. When I asked how she thought she would do that, she said “if everyone helps and holds stands, I think we can do it” In August 2004, Alex passed away at the age of eight, knowing that, with the help of others, she was able to reach her  $1 million goal to help find a cure.

After she passed, we thought that would really be the end of it, but people who had heard Alex’s story kept sending in money, wanting to support.

We decided to keep  Alex’s legacy going and form Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in the hopes that one day we will find a cure for childhood cancer.  We celebrated the 20th anniversary of Alex’s first stand this year!

We were surprised to learn that less than 4% of the federal government’s annual funding for cancer research is dedicated to childhood cancers. Please tell us about the ALSF grant program and some of the initiatives you work to support. 

The ALSF Grant Program funds research every step of the way- from early stage innovative research all the way through a lifesaving clinical trials for kids with cancer. ALSF’s new initiatives are having an impact on research worldwide- the ALSF Childhood Cancer Data Lab and the upcoming Crazy 8 Initiative are bringing together the brightest minds from around the globe to fight childhood cancer. ALSF is also the only childhood cancer research organization that has been given the NCI peer-reviewed funder designation for rigorous selection of research grants. When you donate, you are a part of the cutting-edge research breakthroughs that will ultimately help kids beat cancer. To date, we have funded more than 1000 research projects at 140+ institutions.

From offering information and resources to highlighting family stories, please share the many ways that ALSF supports families. 

Having a child with cancer is one of the most difficult decisions a family can face. ALSF is committed to providing support and resources to families that will make their day a little easier and their challenges more manageable. The ALSF Travel for Care Program helps by providing travel assistance for families who must travel to receive potentially lifesaving treatment for a child. In addition to this, brothers and sisters of cancer patients often face complex emotions as their family is thrown into turmoil of managing a child’s treatment. ALSF’s one-of-a-kind SuperSibs program is dedicated to comforting, encouraging, and empowering siblings as their brother or sister fights cancer. 

In response to the immediate need during COVID-19, ALSF has created an emergency fund to help families during this critical time. To properly address the issues families are facing this fund will provide extended hotel stays so families can remain close to treatment, grocery assistance for families whose income is impacted by the virus, and support families traveling to their home hospital for standard treatment.

We are in awe of the Childhood Cancer Heroes you feature on ALSF. Can you share a story that highlights a child ALSF has supported?

We love our childhood cancer heroes! Here is a great story about Edie Gilger. https://youtu.be/rlsp3W68Zms

What can someone do to support ALSF? 

Anyone can be part of team ALSF! There is no set way for someone to get involved with us. Our supporters hold all types of fundraisers, from the traditional lemonade stand or creative virtual events,  to participating in our special events or becoming a monthly donor there is a way for everyone to get involved. You can check out all the ways to get involved here- https://www.alexslemonade.org/get-involved! Or of course, simply make a donation to support our mission www.AlexsLemonade.org/donate

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