When Life Hands You Lemons . . .
Young Cancer Patient Aims to Raise $1 Million for Research
By Jason Straziuso
Saturday, June 12, 2004; Page A02
WYNNEWOOD, Pa., June 11 -- Alexandra Scott, 8, is battling malignant tumors and wants to raise $1 million for cancer research. She just might do it, one lemonade stand at a time.
Alex started selling lemonade four years ago with one stand and raised $2,000 in a single day. Each year brought more stands, operated by friends and volunteers.
The take so far: more than $200,000, including $15,000 brought in last year by the stand at a grocery store in suburban Philadelphia.
"She's determined about anything that's important to her, whether it's what kind of ice cream she's eating or raising money," said Alex's mother, Liz Scott. "I think [the stand] does keep her going sometimes."
This year, on Saturday, all 50 states will have "Alex's Lemonade Stands" open for business. Alex's father, Jay Scott, estimates that as many as 1,000 stands will be pouring the beverage.
Along the East Coast, all 75 stores in the Super Fresh grocery chain will have stands. On the West Coast, in Seattle, the mother of a 4-year-old volunteer persuaded a community theater to hold its garage sale to coincide with Alex's Lemonade Stand day.
In Minneapolis, a family whose son has the same type of cancer as Alex -- neuroblastoma -- will set up shop at a Twins baseball game.
Even before a drop of lemonade has been sold, money already has been given to stands in Tucson and in Kansas City, Mo. The Tucson organizers received a check for $10,000.
"I have yet to pour one glass of lemonade and we've already made $250," said Mark Mozer, a pediatrician in Kansas City whose own son's neuroblastoma is in remission.
Next month, a group of homeless people in Houston will sponsor a stand. And this week, the Scotts received a check for $160 from an elementary school in Milton, Vt., that had sold lemonade.
"I think it just shows, you read a lot of bad stuff in the news, it shows how good people really are," Jay Scott said.
Two days before her first birthday, Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that originates in certain nerve cells. The survival rate for high-risk neuroblastoma, which Alex has, is 40 percent.
"Alex would have died many years ago if it wasn't for newer experimental therapies, and I think that's something she and her parents recognize," said John Maris, who has directed Alex's care at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Neuroblastoma is diagnosed in about 700 U.S. children every year.
Though excited about Saturday, Alex has been drained by the chemotherapy and radiation being used to treat a new attack of tumors, her mother said. After seven years of treatment, her cancer is considered incurable.
"She's tired. She's exhausted," Liz Scott said. "Her future has always been uncertain, but I don't think any of us -- me, my husband, her doctor -- has felt this pessimistic before."
Because of her frail condition, her parents and doctor have encouraged Alex to cut back on her fundraising activities. But she insisted on appearing on NBC's "Today" show last Friday to publicize the fifth annual Alex's Lemonade Stand day.
Alex has given $150,000 to her Philadelphia hospital. Thousands more have gone for research in Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and California. This year's take will also go for research, but the family has not decided where.
"Alex will have a big say in that," Liz Scott said. "She always does."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company