What started as one brave little girl's idea more than a decade ago has raised tens of millions of dollars to save children's lives everywhere.
And at Jefferson Middle School on Friday, students did their part to add to that total and help support that young girl's vision of a brighter future.
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation emerged from the front-yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra ''Alex'' Scott, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma shortly before her first birthday. In 2000, when she was just 4 years old, Alex announced she wanted to hold a lemonade stand - not to make money for herself, but to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer.
Zachary Schweiger, right, a fifth-grader at Jefferson Middle School, gets a cup of lemonade from Alex’s Lemonade Stand outside the school Friday afternoon.
P-J photo by Dave Emke
Alexandra lost her fight with cancer in 2004, at the age of 8. In the years since her first stand, however, the foundation that was developed in her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, with thousands of volunteers across the country carrying on her legacy of hope. To date, the foundation has raised more than $40 million toward fulfilling Alexandra's dream of finding a cure, and has funded more than 200 pediatric cancer research projects nationally.
June 10-12 has been designated as National Lemonade Days weekend for 2011, during which Alex's Lemonade Stands are being hosted coast to coast to raise money to help find a cure for childhood cancer. One of those stands was outside Jefferson Middle School in Jamestown on Friday afternoon, where it was part of the culmination of a week's worth of events supporting the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.
Carm Proctor, the school's principal, said that the ''Yellow Week'' at Jefferson was part of the school's ongoing efforts to support good causes throughout the year. Sue Schrader, a special-education teacher at the school, became involved with Alex's Lemonade Stand through a friendship with Kim Malarkey, whose son Ryan was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2006 and became a local champion for the foundation.
''Mrs. Schrader has always done things for Ryan - she did the Relay for Life one year, she did Lunch for Life one year for neuroblastoma research,'' said Mrs. Malarkey, whose older son Henry is a fifth-grader at the school. ''But it's nice when kids are helping other kids.''
Ryan has now been cancer-free for more than four years, something his mother attributes in large part to the research supported by the foundation.
The students at Jefferson have been helping the foundation throughout the week through fundraising efforts at an Alex's Lemonade Stand gift shop each morning at the school, buying stickers, temporary tattoos, bracelets and other items. The last three days of the week, students were also able to purchase lemon-flavored slushies during lunch, with proceeds going to the foundation.
Friday after school, the full-scale lemonade stand was opened, along with hot dogs donated by Johnny's Lunch. The lemon slushies and gift shop items were also available for sale, and students lined up as they left school to make their purchases.
Students also learned the importance about what their funds were helping to support, as each class took time during the week to watch the 20-minute Alex's Lemonade Stand documentary video, which tells Alexandra's story and explains the goals of the foundation.
''The whole staff has been involved,'' Ms. Proctor said. ''The kids are always involved in community service, but we always put a fun spin to it.''
For more information about the foundation, visit its website at www.alexslemonade.org.