Fighting Cancer One Cup of Lemonade at a Time

ByABC News via logo

July 30, 2005 — -- Selling cold lemonade on a hot summer day is a right of passage for many American children. But in the case of some lemonade stands popping up around the country, it's not about making money. It's about giving something back.

Courtney Smith, 11, is one of many kids who has started a lemonade stand in honor of Alexandra Scott, another young entrepreneur who suffered from a rare childhood cancer.

"If there's one good thing I've done in my life, it's this," Courtney said.

Alexandra Scott wasn't even a year old when the deadly disease neuroblastoma attacked her body with tumors and sores, forcing her to undergo several surgeries. She lost her curly brown hair to chemotherapy, and doctors said she would never walk. But the little girl with the tireless spirit proved them wrong.

When she was 4 years old, Alex told her mom she wanted to do something other kids do -- open a lemonade stand. And she wanted the profits to go to her hospital -- the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"I was a little worried that she would be disappointed, but she didn't really care what my opinion was," Liz Scott, Alex's mom, said of her daughter. "She said she was going to go ahead and do it anyway."

Alex's first lemonade stand raised $2,000. Another stand brought in an astonishing $15,000. Friends and strangers were drawn to her mission and opened stands, too. In 2003, Alex Scott helped raise $100,000 for pediatric cancer research.

"She wasn't one to sit around wanting people to feel sorry for her," said her dad, Jay Scott. "She wanted to go out there and do something to help her situation and to help other kids."

Her mother said that Alex never downplayed the importance of selling even one cup of lemonade. "She said, 'Basically I don't care how much money I raised. Every little bit counts and I'm going to do it,' " Liz said.

Her efforts didn't go unrecognized. The Philadelphia 76ers basketball team honored her as a "hometown hero." Oprah Winfrey interviewed her. Volvo named an award after her and gave $20,000 to her foundation, Alex's Lemonade Stand for Pediatric Cancer Research.

Last year, the pint-sized businesswoman set a new fund-raising goal: to raise $1 million for pediatric cancer research and hospitals.

"We said to her, 'How are we going to do that?'" Jay said. "She said, 'Oh, we can do it. If other people will help me, I think we can do it. I know we can do it.' And she was right. We did it."

But soon after reaching her fund-raising goal, 8-year-old Alex lost her battle with neuroblastoma on Aug. 1, 2004. She left behind a movement founded on a simple concept: beating childhood cancer one cup of lemonade at a time.

And that legacy has flourished since her death.

Countrytime lemonade has a special "Alex" label; one jeweler designed a lemonade necklace that has sold out twice on the home shopping channel QVC. Others have created coffee, a children's book and even a song based on Alex's battle against cancer.

And kids and adults all over the country have opened their own lemonade stands in front yards, restaurants, car dealerships, parks and even at a casino. They're all trying to help reach a new goal Alex set before she died -- to raise $5 million.

"In the spirit of Alex, I would never say we're not going to do it," Liz Scott said. "I'm still saying we're going to reach it. But we do need a lot of help."

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