Saturday, August 1, 2015

Remembering Alex and the power of her legacy

Our founder, Alexandra "Alex" Scott
January 18, 1996-August 1, 2004
Alex Scott, our founder, believed in the power of small things to add up to big things. Today, as we remember and honor Alex, we are awed by all that she accomplished. Jay Scott, Alex's Dad, has a moving blog post about her legacy up today at Huffington Post:

At Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation one of the things we pride ourselves on is our belief in the power of small things adding up to big things. In fact, we have a philosophy that we share with all of our employees that every donation counts, no matter the amount. We truly believe that you never know which dollar is going to make the difference and lead to the next big discovery to help kids with cancer, and that every single dollar adds up toward making those dreams of a cure a reality. Last year while opening the mail, something that we do as a team every day, we received a donation that made me stop in my tracks....

Read more at Huffington Post

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Scientists in Residence at ALSF


Two scientists are spending sabbaticals as "scientists-in-residence" at the ALSF office this summer. They’re providing their unique insight to analyze the success of ALSF’s grant program and help shape its future direction.

Dale Haines, PhD and Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, PhD have been a great addition to our office.
Dale Haines is an Associate Professor of Medical Genetics and Molecular Biochemistry at Temple University School of Medicine. Andrei is Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Chief of the Division of Cancer Pathobiology at CHOP. Both graciously answered some questions about their work, their sabbaticals and the contributions they are making at ALSF.

Dale Haines, PhD in the lab at Temple University
“The charge we have,” Dale said, “is to take a look at the existing grant programs and judge the relative success as best we can as well as trying to come up with new funding initiatives for the Foundation, keeping in mind the mission of the Foundation.”

In Dale’s professional work at Temple, he directs a required 6 credit graduate level course in the fall at the medical school for PhD students. It covers topics in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and immunology. He also runs a grant writing course in the spring and gives numerous lectures to medical students on molecular biology and recombinant DNA technology and their applications to modern medicine. He is also a member of numerous grant review panels, including for the National Cancer Institute. In between, “I also do some lab work myself, pushing projects forward in the lab as well as writing grants.”

Andrei runs a very active and busy lab of about 10 researchers who are mainly, though not exclusively, focused on pediatric cancers, in particular lymphomas and leukemias. "Recently, we began to investigate the broad problem of treatment failure," Andrei said. "Why do some tumors respond to drugs and some don't? And why do some treatments work at first, but ultimately fail, leaving patients with few, if any, therapeutic options?"

This summer, Dale and Andrei will bring their perspectives as researchers to an analysis of ALSF’s grants program. They’ll judge the success of ALSF’s funded projects and how well they align with ALSF’s mission of finding new treatments and cures by getting new therapies into the clinic quickly. So far Dale is favorably impressed with the productivity of ALSF’s funded researchers. 

“I’ve been able to....follow the paper trail – the publications that cite Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for supporting the work, and then really judge the impact of those papers in the scientific community.” -Dale Haines, PhD


For well-established ALSF grant categories like the Innovation, “A” Award, Springboard and Bridge grants, “I’ve been able to track those investigators and determine whether or not they’re currently successful and have NIH and National Cancer Institute funding, and also follow the paper trail – the publications that cite Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for supporting the work, and then really judge the impact of those papers in the scientific community.”

Among the strengths of ALSF’s grants program he singled out the peer review process, ALSF’s success at identifying good projects and investigators, and the high number of investigators who have gone on to leverage other funding sources as a result of their research, such as subsequent NIH grants.

“Right now we are trying to assess what grant mechanisms work particularly well and how good ones could be made even better." - Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, PhD


"I am very impressed by the breadth of the grants program," said Andrei, and "how ALSF, while focused on cancer cures, maintains a diverse portfolio of not only clinical but also basic research grants, where the payoff might be years away. I think that in the field of cancer research it takes courage and conviction to play the long game."

Dale describes ALSF’s current grantmaking approach as a broad-based funding portfolio, with long term investment in promising projects and investigators as well as “high risk, more aggressive” grants. He’s working on a set of recommendations to maximize future impact and get the most value from every dollar. Andrei summarizes their work this way, "Right now we are trying to assess what grant mechanisms work particularly well and how good ones could be made even better."

A Personal Connection

Dale has contributed to ALSF’s work as a grant reviewer for the past eight years, but he also has a more personal connection to the Foundation – his daughter was a classmate of ALSF founder Alexandra “Alex” Scott’s, and his wife Jen has been involved as a volunteer and supporter of the Foundation for many years.

Dr. Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, PhD, cancer researcher, with soccer star Messi.
Having witnessed Alex Scott’s efforts from its very beginning, Dale said, “I’ve seen how hard the Foundation worked to raise every dime.” In light of that, he gives special attention to whether a given application is likely to make an impact in leading to better treatments and cures, by moving new therapies to the clinic quickly. “Relevance to the mission: I treat that very seriously.”

Andrei's experience as a principal investigator is helping to inform his recommendations: "It helps putting my researcher hat back on and think hard: if I were to apply for this grant, would it help me do my best science?" He has enjoyed the change of pace: "Working at ALSF is a very gratifying experience. When you toil in the lab, 90% of time things go in the wrong direction. Here I feel I am making a positive impact every week."

We are so grateful to be able to tap into Andrei and Dale’s knowledge and perspective this summer and are glad they are spending their sabbaticals with us at ALSF. Thank you to you both!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Guest Post: Stefanie Crilley, Childhood Cancer Survivor and Team Lemon Athlete


Stefanie Crilley is a childhood cancer survivor and member of Team Lemon, ALSF's charity athletic team. She has participated in several races as a Team Lemon runner to raise money for childhood cancer research, including last year's Avengers Half Marathon.

Sometimes being in the right place and the right time sets you off on a journey that you can never imagine. A conversation about running at a friend’s birthday had inspired me to become a charity runner with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Team Lemon.

I obtained a bib and made it my mission to raise $3,100 dollars to participate in the Glass Slipper Challenge, where I marked 30 years as a Wilm’s Tumor survivor by running the Princess Half Marathon in Disney World on my 31st birthday in February.

Upon completing the challenge, I learned that Disneyland in California was going to be offering a half marathon themed around the Avengers. My nerdy comic-book-obsessed self jumped at the chance to run and knew right away that I needed to be a part of Team Lemon once again.

In November, as I stood on the starting line for the inaugural Avengers Half Marathon, I was surrounded with so many different types of people from all walks of life. There were seasoned runners, families, and of course superheroes. To say I felt like the furthest thing from a superhero would be an understatement. Having flown all the way across the country for this race only to get food poisoning from theme park concessions, I was nervous. I didn’t think I would be able to complete the race.

I looked down at my Team Lemon jersey and cape with all the names of the thrivers, survivors, and departed written on it and thought of the journey that got me here. This race wouldn’t be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and nowhere near as difficult as to what the children and families supported by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation have had to endure either. So with those thoughts, stories, and names running through my head, I set off to complete my second race with Team Lemon and conquer the miles through Disneyland, California Adventure, the neighborhoods of Anaheim, and Angels Stadium all backed by Earth’s mightiest heroes. As I ran, I realized how many people continue to be affected by childhood cancer and their stories and strength stuck with me.

While we cannot change the present or past, we can always work harder for the future. Running for Team Lemon has been a powerful experience knowing that the money we raise will be used to fund cancer research and help little superheroes to discover their own superpowers. So if you want to know what it’s like to be part of a super team and want the experience of running through one of the happiest places on Earth, then take part in the Avengers Half, because that is what Team Lemon is all about, working together to fight childhood cancer, one cup at a time.

P.S. The friend whose birthday it was...will be joining me in this year in Chicago as part of Team Lemon as we take on the Chicago Marathon!

Help Stefanie crush her goal for Chicago!

Find out more about joining Team Lemon and running the Avengers Half for ALSF!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Jump Start Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with Alex’s Million Mile

Each September in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, individuals, teams and families join Alex’s Million Mile - Run.Walk.Ride by collectively walking, running and biking 1 million miles for all children with cancer.

Here’s everything you need to know to jump start your participation in Alex’s Million Mile!

 

Set your goal and go 

It all starts with one step!  Grab your friends, your kids, your grandmother, co-workers and register your Alex’s Million Mile team here. When you register, you will have the opportunity to set mileage and fundraising goals. Whether you plan to walk a 100 miles or 1,000 miles; raise $100 or $10,000, your miles and your fundraising will add up to cure!

While you can’t start counting your miles until September, you can start fundraising and raising awareness now!

Share your #Journey2AMillion story

Maybe you are joining Alex’s Million Mile event in honor of your child who is battling cancer or in memory of a child who has battled. Maybe you are joining because you are moved by the story of Alex Scott and other childhood cancer heroes. Or maybe you just love an excuse to count your miles for a good cause. Whatever your motivation, share your #Journey2AMillion story on social media, with your friends and with your professional network. Tell everyone what you are doing, raise awareness of the need for childhood cancer research, invite them to join your team and ask them to sponsor you! Need inspiration? Read more about our childhood cancer heroes here.

Get Connected and Social

The more people join us, the bigger an impact we'll be able to make. Help spread awareness and connect with the bigger Alex's Million Mile community by liking Alex's Million Mile on Facebook. Share updates about your participation on social media. Put up the Alex's Million Mile image below as your Facebook cover photo through the month of September. Or wear an Alex's Million Mile t-shirt (we have versions in yellow or gray) when you're out walking in your neighborhood in the evening and use it as a conversation-starter to talk about the event.
 

Add this Alex's Million Mile cover photo to your Facebook page!

Just Add Teammates!

Everything's more fun when you do it with friends. Ask yours to join your team. You can recruit neighbors, friends or members of a club or sports team you're involved in. Teammates can log miles wherever they are, so you can also invite far-flung friends and family to join your team - it's a great way to stay connected.
 

Host an Alex’s Million Mile Lemonade Stand (or 2!)

At ALSF, we know that the cure for childhood cancer will be found one cup at a time. Include some lemonade stands in your Alex’s Million Mile plans. If you are part of a running or other exercise group, plan to hold a lemonade stand after your class or group run. Or pick a local business or busy park and host a lemonade stand. Your team captain will receive a fundraising toolkit to jump start your stand plans.

Get Creative

There are a million ways to get creative with your fundraising and mileage goals. Ask local businesses to sponsor your team. Plan a fundraising night at your local bowling alley or restaurant. Or draw some inspiration from some of the amazing Alex's Million Mile teams already signed up for September.

Track your Miles and Challenge Your Team

Once September begins your team will be able to track your miles on your fundraising page. Individuals can track miles completed either manually or automatically with MapMyFitness or FitBit. As Childhood Cancer Awareness month progresses, challenge your team to rack up more miles. Everyday, 720 children around the world are diagnosed with childhood cancer. Challenge your team to increase their mileage and their fundraising in honor of these childhood cancer heroes.

Save the Date! Alex’s Million Mile will kick off September 1 at 3pm EST, with a global First Mile Kickoff. Teams and participants everywhere will stop what they are doing, wherever they are, and walk, run or bike the first mile together.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lemonade Stands 101 - What Supplies Will I Need?



Hosting a lemonade stand is easy and simple - anyone can do it! People often ask what they need to host a successful stand. You can add all kinds of finishing touches and flourishes to your stand to personalize it and make it more fun (and lucrative!), but at the most basic level, you just need a few common household items you may already have on hand:

1. Cups

Cups are important! You'll be giving them out to your customers, so it is most convenient to use disposable cups. We sell a very nice ALSF cup in our gift shop, but any cups are fine.

2. Lemonade (and a pitcher or container to hold it)

Here we went with the classic glass pitcher, but if you're expecting a crowd a spouted cooler would also work well. You can make your own lemonade from scratch with lemons and sugar or use your favorite brand of lemonade. 

3. Table/stand

If you're handy and have time, you could build a wooden lemonade stand (we have blueprints on our website) but a regular table, such as a folding card table, will serve the purpose.

4. Paper towels

Essential for mopping up sticky spills!

5. Duct tape (or other tape)

Useful mainly for attaching signs to your table so everyone knows you're holding an Alex's Lemonade Stand to fight childhood cancer! Also, duct tape is always good to have on hand.

6. Donation container

You'll need some kind of container for people to put their donations in. We find that in most situations it works best not to put a price on each cup of lemonade, but instead to ask for donations instead. People will often give more than what you would charge per cup. With a little luck and hard work, you will collect lots of donations to send to Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation to make a difference for kids with cancer.

What we'll provide:

When you register your Alex's Lemonade Stand at our website, AlexsLemonade.org, we will send you a fundraising kit with signs, posters and other materials to help publicize your stand. Pictured below is everything included in our fundraising kit. Please note that if you are holding a stand for Alex's Lemonade Days (June 12-14), you'll receive a special fundraising kit with lots of extras like balloons, stickers, bandanas and more! Alex's Lemonade Days takes the place the weekend each June when Alexandra "Alex" Scott held her annual summertime lemonade stands. In 2004, Alex challenged others to help her raise $1 million for childhood cancer research, and Alex's Lemonade Days - a unified effort involving thousands of stands and supporters - carries on Alex's mission. Be part of it - sign up to host a stand!

2015 Lemonade Stand standard fundraising kit:



A sneak peek at this year's extra-special Alex's Lemonade Days kit (some items are subject to availability - we send out kits in the order that registrations are received):


That's all there is to it! We hope you'll make hosting a stand and fighting childhood cancer part of your summer! Sign up to hold your stand during Alex's Lemonade Days (June 12-14) or any day!