I first learned about Alex and "met" her parents through an online support group for parents of children with neuroblastoma. Alex had a dream to raise money for cancer research, so she did what any little kid would do when they want to make some money: she set up a lemonade stand.
"ALSF is a not-for-profit organization that evolved from Alex's front yard lemonade stand to a nationwide fundraising movement for childhood cancer. For four years, despite her deteriorating health, Alex held an annual lemonade stand. Following her inspirational example, thousands of lemonade stands have been held across the country by children, schools, businesses, and organizations, all to benefit ALSF. To date, her national campaign has raised over 10 million dollars for pediatric cancer research."
"Alex passed away in 2004, but her giving spirit remains the driving force behind the foundation she established. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, guided by Alex’s parents, supports childhood cancer research with a focus on improving the availability of new treatments for children currently undergoing treatments for difficult to cure cancers—such as brain tumors, leukemia, lymphoma, retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma, Ewings sarcoma and Wilm’s tumor—among others." (from the ALSF website)
When PeeWee was diagnosed, I spent a lot of time researching treatment options, and I was surprised by some of the things I learned. One in every 330 Americans develops cancer before the age of 20! Look around, I'll bet you have a family in your neighborhood which has been touched by some form of childhood cancer. Perversely though, funding for pediatric cancer research is scarce. I had assumed that money going into cancer research benefits all ages. But it turns out to be a little more complicated than that since many cancers—such as neuroblastoma—are found almost exclusively in children. Since children make up a relatively small percentage of all cancer patients, childhood cancer gets an extremely skinny slice of the funding pie from government and charitable cancer organizations. Research is crucial to finding new and more effective treatments for cancer. Nobody should have to go though chemotherapy, especially a child. Not only is it dreadful to intentionally pour poison into your baby, it often doesn't even work. I'm convinced that there are better alternatives on the verge of discovery. There are advancements in biotechnology and immunotherapy, for example, that could bring stunning changes to cancer treatment, if we can marshall the resources needed to fund their investigation and application.
The beauty of using a lemonade stand to raise money for kids is that it makes it so accessible and easy for anyone of any age to help. Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has a great website with all the information you need if you'd like to host a lemonade stand, too.
I'd be ever so grateful if any of you would like to spread the word about our lemonade stand. Marly, bless her, talked about it on her podcast, but I'd like to repeat it--If we could get a bunch of knitters on the case, I know that we can have a fantastically successful lemonade stand and do a lot of good for little sweethearts like my PeeWee.