Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On Alex's Lemonade Stand

Dear Mackenzie,
Woody Allen once wrote: “Most people want to achieve immortality through their work. I want to achieve it by not dying”.  Unfortunately, not dying is not an option. So in that case, what does immortality really mean?
A few weeks ago I thought you told me you were going to organize a lemonade stand with Alex. I acknowledge that I was not listening as actively as I should have been (the Dodgers were on television). I remember thinking at the time that I wasn’t sure who Alex was, but that putting a lemonade stand together sounded like a fun, entrepreneurial play date for you guys.
Subsequently your mom posted about it on Facebook, and I realized that what you were actually planning was to raise money for a charity called “Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF)” which benefits childhood cancer research.  I saw in Mom’s post that you were doing this in memory of your late uncle Reed, who had himself died of childhood Leukemia. I was proud and impressed.
Then about a week ago you and Mom started preparing the lemonade stand, and my curiosity was piqued. What exactly was this foundation and more importantly, who was Alex?
According to the ALSF website, Alexandra "Alex" Scott was born to Liz and Jay Scott in Manchester, Connecticut on January 18, 1996, the second of four children.
The website goes on to say that shortly before her first birthday, Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer. On her first birthday the doctors informed Alex's parents that if even if she were able to beat her cancer it was doubtful that Alex would ever walk again. The website further says that just two weeks later, Alex slightly moved her leg at her parents' request to kick, and that this was the first indication of who she would turn out to be - a determined, courageous, confident and inspiring child with big dreams and big accomplishments.
Alex appeared to be beating the odds, until the shattering discovery within the next year that her tumors had started growing again. In the year 2000, the day after her fourth birthday, Alex received a stem cell transplant and informed her mother, "when I get out of the hospital I want to have a lemonade stand." She said she wanted to give the money to doctors to allow them to "help other kids, like they helped me." True to her word, she held her first lemonade stand later that year with the help of her older brother and raised an amazing $2,000 for "her hospital."
I also learned from the website that while bravely battling her own cancer, Alex and her family continued to hold yearly lemonade stands in her front yard to benefit childhood cancer research. That news spread of the remarkable sick child dedicated to helping other sick children. People from all over the world, moved by her story, held their own lemonade stands and donated the proceeds to Alex and her cause. 
Alex passed away in August of 2004 at the age of 8. By the time she died, Alex had helped raise more than $1 million from around the world to help find a cure for childhood cancer. Since her death, Alex's family has been committed to continue Alex’ inspiring legacy through the ALSF.
As I write you this letter, my sweet daughter, the ALSF has become a national fundraising movement, and ALSF has raised more than $50 million dollars in Alex’s memory to combat different childhood cancers.  And counting. I hope you’ll continue to read the ALSF website as time goes by to see what amazing things they accomplish.
On Sunday, June 10, 2012, a warm and beautiful summer day, you and your friend Camden set up the lemonade stand on the front lawn of our house. Your mom, Camden’s mom, Jamie, Heather and I savored your efforts and the magnificent morning as you and Camden hawked lemonade to fight cancer.
Friends and neighbors stopped by to help, and chatted while sipping lemonade and eating cookies. Our neighbor Steve gave a generous donation, and also donated some gourmet cookies to add to your sales inventory.  Our friend Melissa stopped by with a generous donation, and also brought delicious homemade cupcakes (I cannot tell a lie, I ate one) for you to sell. By 2PM, between online donations and your and Camden’s efforts on the front lines, you had raised more than $1200 for the charity.
Of course it’s wonderful that you raised a lot of money for cancer research. But what was really wonderful, and what filled me with love and admiration for you and what you did, was how you and Camden brought Alex and her memory to life.
You told everyone who came by our house that day about Alex’s life story, and about her courage, and about how she had started this amazing movement that lives on beyond her time on this earth.
So in a way, you really did have a play date with Alex on Sunday.
From what I have read about Alex’s life and her courage, I’m sorry I never had the opportunity to meet her. I’m not sure that I would have the resolve to accomplish what she did in her situation, let alone before the age of eight. And I wonder whether I would have the spiritual enlightenment to try and help others even as I was dying. Alex must have been a truly special kid.
I can tell you as a parent, Mackenzie, that Alex’s family would have traded all her accomplishments, and all the good that has come from her terrible situation, and all the tea in China, to have Alex still here with them. And given a choice I suspect Alex might too. That wasn’t in the cards for Alex, though, who instead got something else entirely.
All my everlasting love,



  1. lovely. here's the link to alex's lemonade stand -

    1. thank you Annie. Hopefully people will be inspired to participate.xoxo

  2. Inspired. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Thank you Miriam. So nice of you to comment. Norm

  4. Danielle Sobal MasonJune 27, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    I loved reading this, Norm! I was so happy to learn that Mackenzie hosted a lemonade stand in Alex's honor. I work with ALSF- my company is one of their corporate sponsors. What an inspiring organization! I will share your post with Alex's parents (who run ALSF now). I am sure that they will truly appreciate it.

  5. Thank you Danielle!! Believe it or not, my step-daughter Jamie read the post and sent it to ALex's parents, who posted it on the site!! It is indeed such an inspiring organization. I hope you and your family are well. Norm