Friday, February 27, 2015

News Highlights: Kids helping kids!

At Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation we’re all about kids helping kids! Here are two kids we’re proud of and have seen in the news lately, who are helping to cure childhood cancer one cup at a time!
P.J. Bartos hosts "Alex's Lemonade Stand" in Peoria on President's Day. (Source: CBS 5 News)
P.J. Bartos at his Alex's Lemonade Stand (source: CBS 5 News)

11-year-old P.J. Bartos is an old hand at holding lemonade stands - he hosted his 7th annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand this month in Peoria, AZ. So far, Bartos and his friends have helped raise a staggering $29,000 - amazing!

P.J.'s efforts also got some media attention - read more here and here.

Lots of kids celebrated the 100th Day of School in February, but Garrett Bobowski, a 4th grader in upstate NY, put a cool new twist on the occasion last year by pledging to run 100 miles to mark the 100th day of school. This year he decided to go even bigger, pledging to run an incredible 500 miles, with a goal of raising $500 for ALSF and childhood cancer research! Read more about Garrett.

We're so proud of these guys and their dedication to making a difference!
Garrett Bobowski and his mom

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Meet our February Featured Researcher, Christopher Vakoc, MD, PhD

Christopher Vakoc, MD, PhD, received a 2012 "A" Award from Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for his project "BET Bromodomain Inhibition as Epigenetic Therapy in Pediatric Leukemia." 

Here's a description of his project: 
"Our research seeks to develop novel drugs for pediatric leukemia using a host of powerful genetic technologies, most notably, an approach called RNA interference screening. Our approach allows us to ask cancer cells "What proteins do you need to grow?" with as little bias as possible. Using this approach, we recently identified the protein BRD4 as an 'Achilles Heel' found in many forms of leukemia. Our current evidence suggests that new drugs, developed by our collaborators, that bind and inhibit BRD4 have remarkable anti-leukemia activity in experimental models."

In his "A" Award-funded project, Christopher and his colleagues will "explore the efficacy of BRD4-inhibitors in a broad collection of pediatric leukemia patient specimens. The overall goal of these efforts is to identify which pediatric leukemia patients are most likely to benefit from using these agents, such that these drugs can be introduced into clinical trials."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy Birthday, Alex!

By Liz Scott
Happy birthday, Alex!

Alex’s birthday is this Sunday, January 18 – she would be 19. This past Saturday we held The Lemon Ball, our annual gala. It’s a birthday party for Alex, in a way, as well as a celebration of everything she has made possible. This year the Lemon Ball raised more than $1 million for childhood cancer research – which is pretty incredible. Seeing the little girls in their fancy dresses staying up late makes me think about how much Alex would have enjoyed it.

I speak at the Lemon Ball, and I always try to share what is in my heart, but it gets increasingly difficult each year because my heart is full of so much gratitude that there aren’t words cannot describe how lucky I feel. 

I marvel at what has happened since Alex opened up her first lemonade stand nearly 15 years ago. Back then I was still so full of hope that Alex would be cured. She held that same hope and wanted to share it by ensuring that other children had the chance to be cured. It was amazing how, from day one, family and friends, as well as complete strangers, responded to Alex’s story. That continued throughout the years of her life, with each year bringing more support for her efforts, allowing her to raise more than $1 million in her lifetime toward cures for the disease that would take her life.  Now, her “little” lemonade stand has surpassed $100 million raised and has funded more than 475 research projects.

It has certainly been a magical journey in many ways, though I admit there have been many moments that have been far from magical. Throughout Alex’s 7.5 year fight with cancer, I was desperate for something magical to occur, for a miracle that could give her the cure she deserved. As much as I wanted that, no one wanted it more than Alex.  I once heard Alex ask her older brother if he believed in miracles… when he did not quickly respond, she jumped in and said “I do! I mean I could wake up one day and my cancer could be gone, that would be a miracle.” That was Alex, always the optimist, always hopeful that a cure was around the corner. And, incredibly, even when she knew that her cure would not arrive in time, she never gave up believing that cures for other children were possible. She knew how much research had helped her, she lived half of her life on experimental treatments. She also came to realize that the research had not yet advanced enough to save her; though that disappointed Alex very much, she decided to do all she could to change that for other kids.  She wanted to make sure that there was more research, more opportunities for kids to be cured, and that other kids would not have to hope for a miracle that would never come – instead they would know that their cancer could be cured.

For a while, it was hard for me to reconcile the fact that Alex did so much to help others while the cure that she needed eluded her. But over the past few of years, something transformative happened. We have seen progress being made with help from Alex’s Lemonade Stand -- we have heard stories of kids who have been given a chance at life because of research we have funded.  In most cases, these  kids, like Alex, were running out of treatment options and wanted so badly to be cured, and their parents were just like us, their hearts broken over and over with each day that their child’s cancer did not respond to treatment. To think that kids could get the “miracle cure” they so deserved and to imagine the joy and relief that their parents felt, made everything come full circle.  I know that I will never come to terms with the fact that Alex was not cured, it will never be right and there will never be anything that can make it right. But I also know that despite this fact, her life itself was truly a miracle. Alex didn’t get the miracle cure, but the way that she took advantage of the time she was given to help others, the way she inspired others with her courage, and the hope that her life has provided are incredible evidence of that.  And even though there have been many tough times when life didn’t feel miraculous at all, it is obvious to me now that the magic has been there all along and continues to contribute to true miracles.

At The Lemon Ball, there were so many reminders of those miracles. Miracles like our honoree Cole, who is a 7 year survivor of Stage IV Neuroblastoma, the same cancer that Alex had. Or miracles like Charlotte, who is a two time brain tumor survivor.  There were also children and parents who did not get their miracles and those still waiting for  cures. We are dedicated to making that possible, and all of our volunteers and supporters across the country and world will not stop until Alex’s mission is achieved – cures for all kids with cancer.

So, as I remember Alex, rather than dwelling on the fact that she didn’t get the one big miracle she was looking for in her lifetime, I celebrate the fact that her life was, and will continue to be, the catalyst to more miracles than we could ever count.

Happy birthday, Alex – you are truly a miracle!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Avenge Childhood Cancer - Join the Lemon Force!

We’re on a mission to put an end to childhood cancer 365 days a year at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, but throughout the holiday season this year – we’re waging an epic battle to avenge the disease in honor of all of our superheroes.

Our inspiration? Childhood cancer hero Dan Hammond. When Dan was 9 years old, a large cancerous tumor was found on his spine. Dan, an avid Marvel comic book fan and illustrator himself, nicknamed his cancer “the beast.” Dan bravely fought the beast for 13 years with courage and humor enduring countless surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Thanks to treatment advances made possible from research, Dan always had hope each time the beast returned. But, after a brave and valiant fight – Dan passed away peacefully on February 20, 2014.

Avenge childhood cancer with us and give the gift of hope for a cure to all kids with cancer this holiday season. We’ve set a goal to raise $40,000 in honor and memory of Dan’s heroic fight with the beast and are already off to a great start. Make a tax-deductible donation today! 

You can also show your support by becoming a caped crusader yourself! Download our official Lemon Force mask, take a photo, share online and you could appear on our social media gallery on our website. Simply tag @AlexsLemonade and use the hashtag #LemonForce.

Learn more about Dan's story and help us honor his memory!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

On Your Marks, Get Set...Shop! (for Gifts that Give Back)

Gearing up for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or anything else they’ve come up with this year? Why not give the gift of helping find a cure for kids with cancer? Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has a bunch of ideas perfect for anyone on your list that also give back – check out our list below and get shopping from the comfort of your couch. 

Make a tax-deductible donation in someone's name. Give the gift of research for a cure for all childhood cancers this season! Donate to our "avenge cancer" campaign honoring the memory of childhood cancer hero Dan Hammond who passed away earlier this year. Donate $100 or more and receive a complimentary 2014 holiday ornament. P.S. - Stay tuned to see how we're masking marking Giving Tuesday on December 2!

The official ALSF 2014 holiday ornament: This year's ornament is based on the Lemonade and Love for Sam stand held each year to honor the memory of childhood cancer hero Sam Jeffers who passed away from brain cancer at age 8. Past year's ornaments available as a complete gift set as well. Don't forget about other great ALSF products available on our online gift shop.

AmazonSmile: Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice (including ALSF). Shop through this link to donate!

Alex and Ani Bangle: 20% of the proceeds received by Alex and Ani from selling the Zest for Life Bangle will be donated to ALSF. 

Blue Dot Robot Games: Blue Dot Robot will donate $1 to ALSF for each online sale of Punkin' and Digit &Boo puzzles.

Chavez for Charity: 25% of the gross profit from Chavez's yellow bracelet or necklace collection are given to ALSF. 

Fundphotos: Upload and order photos, cards, photo books and more on this site that donates 10% of each purchase to a Participating Charitable Organization of your choice (including ALSF).

Headbands of Hope: For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to a giving partner of your choice, including ALSF. 

Rügrat Design: Rügrat Design is proud to donate 10% of all sales of its kids clothing and accessories to ALSF.

Hedley & Bennett: Have a budding chef to buy for? 50% of the sales from this kids Alex's Lemonade apron (a miniature version of the one worn by the superstar chefs at our culinary events) is donated to ALSF.

TG Bears: For every Alex Bear sold, TG Bears will donate 30% of the proceeds of the regular price to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.