March 3, 2023: Diagnosed as an infant, Alex fought cancer for most of her life and at the age of four decided she wanted to hold lemonade stands in her front yard. In her lifetime, Alex raised more than $1 million for a cure and today, Alex's Lemonade Stand is one of the leading childhood cancer charities in the country having raised more than $250 million. Joining us today is their Co-Executive Director Liz Scott.
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Today on This Week Health.
Alex would go on to raise a million dollars before she passed away at the age of eight and today fast forward, the foundation has raised over 250 million dollars, but it all is because of the same reason. Alex and her story, which was extremely inspiring and in her lifetime, she really became a spokesperson for the need for pediatric cancer research.
Thanks for joining us on this keynote episode, a this week health conference show. My name is Bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week Health, A set of channels dedicated to keeping health IT staff current and engaged. Special thanks to our keynote show. CDW, Rubrik, Sectra and Trellix for choosing to invest in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. Now onto our show.
All right. Today we have a special guest. We, for our five year anniversary have decided to support a a charity. This year, my team got together and I talked to our advisors and they said to me, you have to look at Alex's lemonade stand. And today we have Liz Scott, the co-executive director of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation with us on the show. Liz, welcome to the show. Thank you very much. I'm looking forward to this conversation. I have to be honest, when the advisors and my team said to me, Alex's lemonade stand, I didn't really know much about it, but. Since then, I've had so many people reaffirm this decision to set up our lemonade stand for raising money around childhood cancer.
And I'm, I'm really excited to do it. And what I'd like to do today is really just get information out there for our community who may like me not know about A L S F and, and what you guys do. So I, I really appreciate you coming on the show.
I am thrilled to be here.
let's just start with that question. Tell us about ALSF
So Alex's lemonade Stand was started by my daughter Alex, in her front yard. It literally is just how it sounds. She was diagnosed with cancer as an infant. She fought cancer the rest of her life. So by the time she was four, she knew there was more that could be done. I think just from overhearing adult conversations in the hospital. That was her life. And she told us she was gonna have a lemonade stand and she wanted to give the money to her doctor so they could help kids like her.
And that's truly how it started in the front yard. We thought it was, we were proud. This was way back in 2000 kids weren't doing lemonade stands for charity, then. We're proud. I thought it was really creative, but honestly I thought it was cute. Right? She's gonna cure cancer with a lemonade stand like only a four year old would.
But from day one, it just exceeded anything we could have imagined because people responded so generously to her.
How much has Alex's lemonade stand raised at this point for childhood cancer?
Well, in her lifetime, amazingly, Alex would go on to raise a million dollars before she passed away at the age of eight and today fast forward, the foundation has raised over 250 million, dollars but it all is because of the same reason. You have Alex and her story, which was extremely inspiring and in her lifetime, she really became a spokesperson for the need for pediatric cancer research.
And then after she passed away she had already inspired people to have their own lemonade stands and to get involved. After she passed away, more people wanted to get involved because they saw that she was a really, an example of why we need more. And then through the years that same inspiration has drawn people to our organization, but also the cause of childhood cancer is, I think everybody can understand at a certain level.
They can understand, obviously, if they've walked down the road of childhood cancer, they have a firsthand knowledge, but anybody. Can understand why children with cancer need new cures, why we should invest in childhood cancer. It's a cause that everybody can rally around and, and I think we've given people a really easy way to do that.
Yeah. You, you were proud and obvi, I mean, I would've been over the moon if, if my child had done this. But you were proud, but were you surprised at how it just kept growing or was it just sort of a infectious kind of I mean, just to believe that you can start a, a lemonade stand and raise that kind of money and really cure childhood cancer, I mean, that kind of belief is infectious, isn't it?
It really is. And yes, I'm still surprised in that, maybe surprising, but honestly, I told her when she said she wanted to do this, she would raise five or $10. Just to warn her, I didn't want her to be disappointed because she was doing a great thing and she said, I don't care. I'll do it anyways. Well, she raised $2,000 that first day and we were blown away.
We saw how people, when you give them an easy way to help, they could give 25 cents or they could give $25. They will. And that's really been the story since I would say, and it still surprises me though, how. People are willing to give and people are willing to do, they're willing to set up lemonade stands or give their talents to help kids with cancer. And it inspires me to this day. Surprise is probably too strong of a word, but inspires. Yes.
I'm gonna ask you the vision and mission for Alex's lemonade stand. Can you sum those up? I assume they're pretty succinct.
are. So, . Our vision is the same as Alex's vision, right? We want to change the lives of kids with cancer and their families, and we wanna do that by finding new and better cures, by supporting families in their journey and by empowering everybody to be a part of it.
So our mission and our vision are really one and the same, and they were truly created by Alex in our front yard. She insisted we fund all kinds of pediatric cancers, which was truly visionary. Rather than focusing on her cancer, it has allowed us to impact so many more lives. And we just carry forward what she started and.
Fortunately there's many different ways that we can tackle this problem. Unfortunately there's a lot of needs in the community that we're addressing, but we just feel privileged to be able to be in this space right now, raising the money we're raising and having the kind of impact we're having.
I'd love to have you share some of the stories because in, in prep for this, I went out to your website and I was, I was looking at some of the stories on the Heroes page. And I'm sure over the years there's, there's been so many kids that have been impacted and, conversations that you've had.
Can you share some of those stories of, I, I love the fact that it's a heroes page and it is really inspirational If people get the chance, it's alexslemonade.org and it's definitely worth taking a look. any of those stories about those heroes over the years?
There are so many. So once that stick with me are the families we hear from who I know to a certain level, what their experience was, which was they went through all the known cures, which is usually chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, a combo, and it didn't work. And they were facing with their child as we were with.
Alex A really poor prognosis and pretty much being told that she was not gonna survive and they find their way to a clinical trial, a brand new treatment as we did funded by Alex's, or made possible by funds from Alex's Lemonade Stand. , which essentially means made possible by Alex herself in a certain way.
Right? And they're contacting us because it worked and their child is cured and their child is, we know some of these families, some of them are 4, 5, 6, 7 years out and growing up healthy and doing all the things that Alex didn't get to do past eight years old. And I just think of Alex and I think what a tremendous gift to me that these families contact us to let us know.
That she's alive. One family told me they put an extra candle on the birthday cake every year in honor of Alex knowing that it was her life that made their daughter's life possible. Wow.
the 250 million dollars raised since that first lemonade stand, I, I think one of the things that people are gonna ask is what kind of research is it going to, does it go to.
Specific hospitals, and you already said it doesn't, it's not specific cancers or, or treatments. How do you determine where the, money goes from the lemonade stand.
when Alex was about six years old, she started questioning where her lemonade stand money was going.
She had raised about $40,000. And her question was, when I said, very proudly, we're giving it to your hospital here in Philadelphia. She said, what are they using it for? And I said, they're using it to fund neuroblastoma research. That was her type of cancer. And she started shaking her. head and I said, what's the matter?
She said, that is so selfish. We should be giving money for all different cancers at all different hospitals. So we really got to work then. And again, that vision has carried us through. We have a very competitive grant review process and what happens? Is we fund everything from like really early new ideas like seed money for an innovative idea.
We fund a lot of young investigators. We need to bring people into the field. We're often the first grant for a pediatric oncology researcher all the way through the clinical trials. We put it out to the community. We let them know this is what we wanna fund. They submit their applications. We have over a hundred reviewers that we assign them to, and they read them and they compare their notes and they get on a phone call and they discuss.
And then the ones that rise to the top that's excellent are the ones we fund. So it's not specific to one type of childhood cancer. We've funded virtually every type at this point. It's also not specific to one institution And that's really important because a cure found anywhere helps kids everywhere, right?
So it so happens that we funded up more than 150 different institutions but we really follow where the scientists are telling us the best, most promising research is.
Wow. One of the things I loved about partnering or setting up our lemonade stands, you, you make it so easy. It's, it's like, I'm glad to hear that it is almost like you go out in your front yard and you stand this up.
I mean, we, we got in contact with you. You said, look here's how you do it. And we now have a page on on Alex's lemonade stand and it's our lemonade stand. and it tracks what people give and and towards our goal. And our goal is on there as well. People can post notes and things to that effect on there as well.
I was just surprised how easy it is. It, it really is easy to partner with. You guys. How any of those, those partnerships or lemonade stance, do you have.
we have allowing anybody to be a part of helping. It was something we learned from Alex, right? She kind of was the example of how anybody can have a lemonade stand.
So I'm glad to hear that you found it easy because it should be easy to support a good cause. We have, depending on the year we have People register through our website, and then we have companies that do sort of on a scale. They have a lot of locations. We have about 10,000 wow stands that happen across the country and everything from restaurants to businesses to front yards to.
you name it there, you can, if you can get permission to have lemonade, stand there, we tell people it's a great place to have one, you don't need a lot of foot traffic and some people prefer a lot of foot traffic. It really depends on who's doing it and sort of what their goal is.
Well, we're not, we're not actually gonna be selling lemonade, although Interesting. That would be an interesting approach. I'll have to think about that. We're not actually planning on selling lemonade, but we are going to be encouraging our sponsors and our partners and our listen. To be a part of our our drives this year to get there and in fact, our first one was in January.
And it ends at the end of this week. And we are already pretty close to $10,000, so. Wow. That's incredible. Yeah, so I'm pretty excited with how the community has come behind us and where, where we're gonna be going with it. And I, I really appreciate the work that you guys are doing, and I'm really glad we found your organization.
I mean, one of the things we were looking for was an organization that wasn't top heavy. and too much of the percentage came off towards administrative. You guys funnel a significant amount of the money towards, I think, what Alex's original vision was, which is to your childhood.
Yeah. I mean that's, that's the ultimate gift, right, is to have every parent whose child is diagnosed. Every child who's diagnosed with cancer know that they can be cured, and that's where we wanna get, and, and we believe we will get there.
This is fantastic. Liz, I, I want to thank you for your time today and I'm looking forward to, I don't know, maybe we'll catch up in December and we'll do another show at the end of the year and, and hopefully by then we'll have reached our goal of $50,000 for the year.
I have no doubt. Thank you so much. I look forward to that. Thank you.
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