Thursday, September 25, 2014

Finishing Strong in Honor of our Heroes!

We're in the home stretch! Only 5 days left until SeptAMMber and Alex's Million Mile is over. Thank you to everyone who has participated and made it an amazing month so far, but it's not over yet....

Do you have blisters on your feet? Do your legs hurt? Bike riders - is your backside a bit sore? It's easy to make excuses, but they pale in comparison to what our childhood cancer heroes have to endure even after their treatment is complete, heroes like 10-year-old Cole Fitzgerald

Cole was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at age 2 and has been cancer free for 7 years now. However, Cole bears lifelong scars from his treatment. He lost part of his hearing at age 3 because of a specific chemotherapy drug and wears hearing aids full time. He also has some balancing issues, due in part to his treatment, that have made it a challenge to do things that many of us take for granted, like riding a two wheel bike. Despite all of this, not to mention dislocated hips, Cole has already crushed his AMM goal of riding 100 miles this month (averaging more than 3 miles/day).

In honor of Cole and all of our heroes, we are challenging all AMM participants to boost their end-of-the-month miles by completing 3 miles a day (or 15 miles collectively) from now through 12PM (Noon) on Oct. 1. Those who complete these miles and have raised $100* or more as of Oct. 1, will receive a limited edition ALSF t-shirt and an autographed photo of Cole!

Even if you're not participating in Alex's Million Mile, you can still support the efforts of others by making a donation to an AMM team to help fund childhood cancer treatment. Let's finish strong for all of our childhood cancer heroes! 

 *This includes donations made at any point throughout the Alex's Million Mile event, not just these last couple of days. Eligible donations include those that participants have made or those made on behalf of participants, does not include Volvo's match. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Overcoming Adversity One Step at a Time

Need a bit of inspiration to carry you though this last week of the month? Take a moment to read the blog below by Jay Scott, Alex's Dad, to reinforce the importance of your support this September. We can do this!

What does taking a single step mean to you? Did you walk to work this morning, or simply walk to the car to drive to work? Did you walk to the kitchen to grab coffee or take the dog for a walk around the block? You probably take thousands of steps each day without realizing it because these steps are insignificant to you. What you may not realize is that for many children who battle childhood cancer, the ability to take a single step can be an insurmountable obstacle. For some, they will be diagnosed with cancer before they learn to walk; for others their disease will take one of their limbs, making it difficult to acclimate; and for even more, the side effects of treatment and a long-fought battle will catch up to them, limiting their movement, but never taking away their motivation.

It is in honor of these children, and what they must overcome to take a single step, that we at Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation are asking people everywhere to help us make these seemingly insignificant steps matter this September during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month as part of Alex's Million Mile - Run. Walk. Ride. We will count each and every step as we work toward collectively logging one million miles throughout the month. Why one million? Because who wouldn't go that distance, and more, to find cures for all kids with cancer?

My daughter, Alexandra "Alex" Scott fought cancer for nearly her entire life. Diagnosed before her first birthday, she would face many challenges along the way, including something many of us take for granted - the ability to walk. At diagnosis, she had a tumor wrapped around her spine. Surgery was the most prudent option, and the doctors told us that if she survived, she would almost certainly never walk. As Alex did many times over, she would surprise everyone by working through excruciating pain to teach herself how to walk, without ever being able to feel her legs.

Alex Scott learning to walk.
I think this said a lot about Alex's character, and it was also an influential moment in shaping who she would become. We were told that she would never be able to walk, but with each step she took, she would gain confidence in herself, and in her ability to overcome adversity. Had Alex not been presented with such an obstacle -- would she have ever voiced the idea to host a lemonade stand to find cures for others?

Following in Alex's footsteps, literally, childhood cancer survivor 12-year-old Kaela Cruz lives a very active and athletic life each and every day. At the age of 5, Kaela was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and in May of 2007 had an above the knee amputation on her left leg. She loves swimming, tae kwon do, and has completed multiple triathlons. In Kaela's own words, she calls the completion of her first triathlon the big picture moment of her life -- she completed it with a walker, taking her time to finish.

This moment proved that she could inspire others through her actions, and made her the person that she is now -- an outgoing, positive, athletic 12-year-old who wants to show people what she is capable of, and that we are all capable of overcoming obstacles in life. Kaela and her family will be logging their miles in September, and with her competitive spirit, I have no doubt that they will be among the top teams! Watch Kaela's inspiring story in the video below, and if you are inspired, join Alex's Million Mile too!

As part of last year's very first Alex's Million Mile (then known as the Million Mile Run), childhood cancer fighter Jordan Vincent decided that she wanted to participate. Jordan began battling a rare form of brain cancer in January 2003 at the age of 4. She has spent more than half her life in treatment, including undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and more surgeries than her family cares to remember. With a nickname "the cancer slayer," Jordan has shown remarkable resilience, never letting cancer get her down or stop her from achieving her goals.

At the launch of Alex's Million Mile in 2013, we had many competitive people who set goals of running or walking 100 miles on their own. Jordan's goal was a bit more humble, she wanted to walk one mile over the course of the month -- something that would be a true challenge for her. With the assistance of her family, Jordan was able to complete the mile, walking hand in hand with her dad as he supported her through her gait belt. Jordan proved something that elicited memories of my daughter Alex when she decided not to set a price on her lemonade. Alex and Jordan understand that it isn't always about the amount of money (or miles) that you donate -- after all, who knows which dollar will find the cure, or which mile will spark someone's interest to help!

These stories may seem a bit disjointed, but I wanted to share them as examples of the various obstacles that childhood cancer fighters have to overcome to take a single step, or walk just one mile. Throughout the days of our lives, we will all meet with some form of adversity. It is adversity that has the ability to make or break us, to shape who we are and what we will become, and for some of us, like Alex, Kaela and Jordan, this adversity will change the lives of others too.

In closing, I challenge you to add significance to each and every step that you take this September during National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Whether you are a marathoner, a cyclist, or a casual walker, why not donate the steps you take toward making a difference in the lives of children with cancer. As has been said, the journey of a thousand (or million!) miles begins with a single step. Let's take steps to move toward better treatments and cures for childhood cancers in September, it's not possible for those steps to be deemed insignificant.

-Jay Scott

To find out more about Alex's Million Mile - Run. Walk. Ride. click here, or follow the hashtag #Journey2AMillion.

Originally posted on the Huffington Post Impact Blog, 9/2/2014.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Throwing Down the Gauntlet against Childhood Cancer

Here we are already halfway through SeptAMMber (not a typo, just our special Alex’s Million Mile ‘AMM’ lingo) and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outpouring of support during this important time of year, National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Alex’s Million Mile – Run. Walk. Ride. has inspired thousands of people across the globe to log the miles they run, walk or bike ride throughout the month, but for those participating – it’s about so much more than just keeping a tally of miles completed. People are truly challenging themselves and others to go that extra mile (literally) to get us closer toward our collective goal of reaching 1 million miles.

Challenges are nothing new here at Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. In fact, Alex Scott herself was the one who inspired Alex’s Million Mile’s lofty goal as 10 years ago this past summer at just 8 years old, she challenged the entire nation to hold lemonade stands to help her reach her goal of raising $1 million for childhood cancer research. We figured if Alex could reach and surpass her million dollar goal, surely we can too.   

Of course, it’s hard to say the word “challenge” these days without thinking of one of the various challenges making their rounds on social media. We’d be remiss not to mention the widely successful ALS ice bucket challenge that raised an incredible amount of well-deserved funds (and awareness) for Lou Gehrig’s disease, and in turn,  has inspired some ALSF supporters to come up with their own social media challenges (with a lemon twist of course).

There’s Brielle Barber, a 4 year old little girl who likes princesses, butterflies and Strawberry  
Shortcake, but Brielle is also courageously fighting brain cancer. In her mom’s words, “She takes on every challenge that comes her way with fierceness and bravery.” Brielle and her family have spearheaded the Lemon Shot Challenge that asks people to drink a shot of straight lemon juice (and post their video on social media) or make a donation to ALSF. Brielle’s efforts have really taken off and even attracted support from some high profile participants including members of the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Phillies, and has raised an incredible $20,000 (and counting)!

The Lemon Challenge is another social media challenge popping up where people are challenged to pucker up and suck on a lemon slice or donate to ALSF because as one supporter notes quite frankly, "childhood cancer sucks."

Finally, others have embraced the Whipping Childhood Cancer Challenge where, you guessed it, people challenge others to take a whipped cream pie in the face and donate $7 to their favorite childhood cancer charity. The number 7 comes from the fact that every day, 7 kids die from cancer in the U.S.
Click here to see the video of Joey Montalbano take the Whipped Cream Challenge in honor of his 4 year old son Marshall who is fighting leukemia.

When it comes down to it, whether you’re participating in Alex’s Million Mile or taking part in one of these fun social media campaigns – we challenge you to get inspired and do something this month  to raise awareness of the need to support childhood cancer research. Let’s do this!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Guest Blog: 2014 James Beard Award Winning Outstanding Chef Nancy Silverton Shares Why she Supports L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade

Sure, we may be focused on Alex's Million Mile this September, but there are plenty of other events benefiting Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation this month including the incredibly popular L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade culinary event happening this Saturday, September 20 in Los Angeles. A limited amount of tickets remain to this star-studded event hosted by the trio of Suzanne Goin, David Lentz and Caroline Styne where more than 40 renowned chefs from across the country serve up tastings of their delicious dishes. Chef Nancy Silverton of the Mozza Restaurant Group is one of these chefs who supports the event each year. Below she tells us why she supports ALSF and why you should get your tickets to Saturday's affair before it's too late!

Host Suzanne Goin and Nancy
Great food, much like a great cause, has the ability to bring people together and change the world. Really, it’s true. Case in point - five years ago, when my dear friends, Suzanne Goin, Caroline Styne and David Lentz, first told me about this idea that they had to bring together amazing chefs, mixologists and vintners from all over the country to Los Angeles, in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, my first question was - what is Alex’s Lemonade Stand? They proceeded to tell me about an event they attend in Philadelphia hosted by Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin of the Vetri Family of Restaurants, and a remarkable young lady named Alex, who set out to change the world, one glass of lemonade at a time.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Alex’s parents, Liz & Jay Scott, and the thousands of supporters (nationwide) that help each and every day in the fight against childhood cancer. To think that the Foundation, which started out as a simple front yard lemonade stand, has raised more than $80 million to help fund hundreds of childhood cancer research projects is simply amazing.

This year marks the 5th annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade event and while each event is fun as it gives me the opportunity to see friends from all over the world, the impact that it has on the fight against childhood cancer is truly what makes the day so meaningful. The event has helped to raise more than $1.75 million – that’s $1.75 million that will help to fund childhood cancer research, something that is incredibly important since it is vastly underfunded by the federal government, yet continues to take the lives of so many young people.

Matt Molina and Nancy
Besides the great food, drink and atmosphere – one of my favorite parts of the day is hearing from a family or child who has been affected by childhood cancer. To hear firsthand what these brave children and their family have to endure, and to think that I have the ability to contribute to research that could potentially save a child’s life simply by sharing my love for food – is extremely powerful and something I’m honored to do. In fact, members of the staff from the Mozza Restaurant Group have also embraced Alex’s vision of finding a cure and Chef Matt Molina participates in several of the ALSF culinary events held across the country.

I invite you and your family to eat, drink and help
contribute to cures at the 5th annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade event on Saturday, September 20, from noon-4pm. Be sure to stop by and say hello to the Mozza Team where they will be serving up Ribolita "Da Delphina” - yum!