Taking a Stand Against Childhood Cancer
BY CHERYL HARBOUR
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) started with a small girl who had a little idea to have a lemonade stand on her front lawn, but it turned into a very big mission and a broadly-reaching organization. Since 2005 when the Foundation was started, more than $150 million has been collected to fund research into childhood cancers.
In addition to skydiving Grandma Bee (our cover story), there are individuals and groups holding ALSF fund-raising events in California, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver, Chicago, Los Angeles, Bay area, Kansas City, Jackson Hole and many other locations, as well as several nation-wide ongoing efforts. Some carry out the original concept – a grassroots lemonade stand (and there have been more than 40,000 of those through the years). There are also runs and bowling matches and stair climbs and dinners, all to support the cause.
The small girl with the original lemonade stand was Alex Scott, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma just before her first birthday. As treatment progressed, Alex came to know first-hand the life of medical procedures and hospital stays that too many children with cancer experience. When she was just four, Alex told her parents she wanted to sell lemonade in their front yard to raise money for her hospital and for the doctors working to help other kids. Even then, it was a big dream and that first lemonade stand raised more than $2,000.
Of course, the message is not lost: If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.
According to Heather Banaszek, ALSF’s Community Outreach Specialist for California, “People don’t always realize how common childhood cancer is – how it comes out of the blue and can affect anyone.” Heather has personal experience — her son died of leukemia when he was 13 years old.
Heather continued, “We thought at the time we’d like to start something to support cancer research and treatment, and when I looked around at other organizations, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation really stood out. They were already doing such effective work.”
In addition to funding research, ALSF also has established a family resources program, including Travel for Care which helps cover costs, both transportation and lodging, for families who face the need to travel for their child’s cancer treatment.
Heather has met Grandma Bee and calls her “extraordinary.” “What she’s doing is above and beyond.” Literally.
CHILDHOOD CANCER FACTS:
Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the U.S.
One in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old.
Every year, an estimated 250,000+ new cases of cancer affect children under the age of 20 worldwide. That’s almost 700 new kids affected each day.
Two-thirds of childhood cancer patients will have long-lasting chronic conditions from treatment.
Childhood cancer occurs regularly, randomly and spares no ethnic group; socioeconomic class; or geographic region. In the United States, the incidence of cancer among adolescents and young adults is increasing at a greater rate than any other age group, except those over 65 years.
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About the author – Cheryl Harbour