Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Every year at this time we are reminded of the things we are thankful for – family, friends, health, good fortune; this year in addition to all of these things, I am thankful for something else – Team Lemon. It may sound odd, to be thankful for an athletic team, but as we all know, Team Lemon is so much more than that. It’s a way for athletes of all calibers to raise awareness and funds for the battle against childhood cancer. Here’s the story of how I accidentally fell into being a member of Team Lemon and how during this season of giving thanks, I find myself being thankful for something I didn’t see coming.
Many of us have been inspired by the story of Alexandra “Alex” Scott, her courage in the face of adversity, and her selflessness when while battling her own cancer she literally stood up for other children facing the same plight. I was not immune to this inspiration, it’s the reason I moved to Philadelphia and have dedicated nearly four years of my life to spreading Alex’s mission, the amazing work of volunteers, sponsors and supporters and the brave stories of childhood cancer fighters. What I perhaps did not anticipate was being inspired by another member of the Scott family, Jay Scott, Alex’s dad. It was in early May of this year that Jay challenged members of the ALSF staff to participate in the Broad Street Run as part of Team Lemon. At the time, the thought of me running a 10 mile race was laughable and improbable at best. If you asked members of my softball team, I often complained about running to first base – fortunately for me, I’m not a great softball player so I barely ever had to run further than that! However, for the purposes of ALSF and in support of kids fighting cancer who inspire me every day, I agreed and told myself (and everyone else) that I would simply walk. Somewhere along the line though, things took an unexpected turn and I decided to accept Jay’s challenge and try to run. What transpired next was a complete shock - I found myself actually enjoying the process and accomplishing things I didn’t think were possible. First it was simply being able to jog half a mile, then a mile, then five; to me, it was a miracle of sorts.
I am proud to say that I completed the Broad Street in 1 hour and 37 minutes and to my surprise when the opportunity presented itself to run the half marathon in Philadelphia as part of Team Lemon, I jumped at it. It was unbelievable to think that in 2010 getting up early to cheer on my coworkers at the marathon was a challenge and this year I’d be running it. However, there I was, raising money for the Foundation and gearing up to run 13.1 miles.
Being a part of Team Lemon has taught me a great deal about life and the limits we set for ourselves. Additionally, it’s shown me so much more than just what I am personally capable of – it’s also provided me with an example of what we are all capable of when we pull together. As Alex knew long before I did, when we combine our efforts, we can do anything. Whether it’s simply pushing ourselves to accomplish things we thought once impossible or becoming part of a team to put an end to childhood cancer, the possibilities are endless.
When Team Lemon gathered at our tent prior to the race this past Sunday, I met some other first time half marathon runners who had been inspired by Alex’s courage, and the courage of so many other children battling cancer. We all agreed that the physical strain we were about to put ourselves through on Sunday though not a cake walk, would be nothing compared to the battles that young children facing cancer experience. For me, reaching mile 13.1 was a huge accomplishment, and with the thousands of steps I took that day, I knew they wouldn’t be my last steps to contribute to the battle against childhood cancer. I’ll be back next year as part of Team Lemon, and probably the year after that. It has been a wonderful experience, and one I am surprisingly thankful for this year. I’d recommend it to anyone, if I can do it, you can do it too.
- Gillian Kocher
Thursday, November 17, 2011
The Lemon Run Philadelphia, held on Sunday, November 13, 2011, made for two back to back weekends of successful events for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. After the Foundation’s fantastic foodie event in Los Angeles the weekend before, supporters on the East Coast presented an equally inspiring show of solidarity at the Foundation’s annual Philly 5K Run/Walk and Kids’ Dash.
The brisk and sunny morning brought out nearly 2,000 participants, including runners, walkers, children and those who simply came to show their support in the battle against childhood cancer. The 2011 event was a record breaking year for many reasons, including for funds raised – over $150,000! Intermingled with athletes who came to run the certified course were several fundraising teams honoring childhood cancer fighters.
The fundraising teams created a competition of their own, vying for the top position. Among the teams were Team Gusto, honoring 5-year-old Eli, a resident of Gladwyne village who is fighting his cancer with gusto; Team Mikey Mike, honoring childhood cancer survivor Michael Hoffman; Team Smiley Riley, formed by the family of 2-year-old cancer survivor Riley McComb; and Team Dave-O, honoring the memory of David Theobald, who died of cancer in 1982 at the age of 8. In the end, Team Gusto may have won the fundraising competition, but all the teams were winners knowing that their efforts would go toward the ongoing mission to end childhood cancer. We also want to mention that the top individual fundraiser was 2-year-old Lucy Littlefield, a cancer survivor!
The overall winner of the 3.1 mile race was Rich Burke with a time of 16 minutes and 45 seconds. The overall female winner was Grace Mancini, cruising across the finish line at 18 minutes and 55 seconds.
The morning was a huge success and wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of all runners, walkers, fundraising teams and sponsors. A special shout out to Volvo, and to all those who traveled from out of town to participate in the event. Can you believe that we had people from Syracuse, Houston and even Brazil! Thank you!
For pictures, race results and more information, visit our website: http://www.alexslemonade.org/campaign/lemon-run
- Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation
Thursday, November 10, 2011
If you only read the headline, the story would be a simple one – thousands gathered on a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, California to raise funds and awareness for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and the battle against childhood cancer. But if you were anywhere in the vicinity of the culinary cook out to find cures on Sunday, November 6, 2011, you know that the story is far more complex.
Participating chefs, ALSF staff members, celebrities and attendees of L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade awoke to find a gloomy, rainy morning last Sunday. For a city that doesn’t experience much rain, the forecast and outlook was looking very wet. However, just as Alex was determined to hold her lemonade stand through rain or shine, everyone who was setting up the event arrived and began plan b immediately, rearranging tables, booths and of course tents to make the best of the circumstances. It surely was a rainy morning, and just when you thought that the day might turn out to be miserable, a patch of blue sky appeared and the rain started to lessen. By 10am, the sky was completely clear and it appeared as if it was going to be a beautiful day after all. And, it sure was.
By the time VIP guests started to arrive on Sunday, the pandemonium had subsided, and though there was still a little bit of mud to trudge through, everyone’s spirits couldn’t have been higher. As with the inaugural event last year, the food was delicious the auctions were exciting, and everyone had an amazing time. Some of the highlights of the afternoon included: emcee Jimmy Kimmel entertaining everyone rainy day humor; honorary hosts Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka addressing the crowd and sharing their support of the cause; Kirsten Vangsness, A.J. Cook and Joe Mantegna of Criminal Minds coming out and showing their support; several childhood cancer hero families attending and Larry Vincent and his daughter childhood cancer fighter Jordan sharing their journey; a full out bidding war over a women’s chef dinner which would feature host chef Suzanne Goin, Giada De Laurentiis and many other talented ladies; not to mention the fantastic and delicious food. By the way the auction item ended up going to the highest bidder for $61,000 – a record item for the foundation.
Overall the event was attended by more than 1,000, raised over $400,000, and it surely was an event to remember from beginning to end. A special and heartfelt thanks go to Suzanne Goin, David Lentz and Caroline Styne for their dedication to helping achieve Alex’s dream. L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade wouldn’t exist and certainly wouldn’t be possible without them. Another group to thank are the sponsors who made the event possible – Volvo, Activision and Paramount Citrus. Thank you to everyone who attended or contributed in some way – we look forward to seeing you in 2012!
- Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation