The lemonade stand is a hallmark of childhood: that first symbol of entrepreneurial spirit, countless stands spring up on neighborhood corners in the summer, with signs in messy scrawl proclaiming the price of homemade goodies generally sold so that their makers can invest in a new bike or video game.
But this weekend in Cicero, the lemonade and cookies sold by 8-year-old Madison King, 6-year-old Nadia Greco and 8-year-old Owen Greco won’t fund a new toy. Instead, all of the proceeds — a total of $1,257.08 with a $100 match from Carrier Corp. — will benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a charity dedicated to pediatric cancer research.
“They had heard about Alex’s Lemonade Stand from years ago,” said Lisa King, Madison’s mother. “We had hosted a fundraiser in the past [with a Mommy and Me group]. I had explained to them what it was all about, and they thought it was a great idea. They decided to pool all of their funds and get some lemonade mix and make some cookies and donate them to the stand. They’re very excited to be able to help children their own age.”
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation began in 2004, the legacy of Alexandra “Alex” Scott. Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma shortly before her first birthday and defied doctors’ predictions that she’d likely never walk. She underwent rigorous treatment and, the day after her 4th birthday in 2000, told her mother, “When I get out of the hospital, I want to have a lemonade stand [to] help kids like me.”
With the help of her older brother, Alex put together a lemonade stand and managed to raise $2,000 for pediatric cancer research. She continued the fundraisers every year, despite the fact that she was continuing to battle her own disease. Her story spread, inspiring others to contribute to the cause; people across the nation held lemonade stands and contributed money to Liz and Jay Scott’s little girl’s charity.
In 2004, Alex succumbed to her cancer. But by that point, she and others had managed to raise more than $1 million for pediatric cancer research.
In her honor, the Scotts founded Alex’s Lemonade Stand foundation in 2005, allowing people like the Kings and the Grecos to continue to hold lemonade stands in her name. Since the Alex opened her first stand, more than $55 million has been raised, helping the foundation to fund more than 250 cutting-edge research projects, create a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment and develop resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.
Most important of all, the foundation allows kids to make a huge contribution, something they often feel they can’t do, said Gillian Kocher, media liaison for the foundation.
“We are thrilled that Owen, Nadia and Madison are hosting an Alex’s Lemonade Stand to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer following in the footsteps of our founder Alex, who believed that you are never too young to make a difference,” Kocher said. “Childhood cancer remains the leading disease killer of children under the age of 15 in the United States, and it is vital that research continue toward finding better treatments and ultimately cures for all kids with cancer. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is able to do just that through the support of volunteers just like Owen, Nadia and Madison.”
Lisa King said her daughter and the Grecos wanted to participate after hearing about a fundraiser she had done a few years ago.
“Probably about five or six years ago, I heard about the foundation through word of mouth, and I wanted to make a conscious effort to help, so I hosted a stand at my house,” King said. “This year, we wanted to do it again. It’s a great event, and it’s wonderful to see it through their eyes.”
In addition to manning the stand from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday, the kids have also been hard at work, handing out 90 to 100 fliers in their neighborhood and collecting donations of cookies, toys and cash from their neighbors.
King said the experience has opened their eyes to quite a bit.
“I’d say they’ve learned how important it is to give back to their community and to help others,” she said. “I don’t know that they’ve realized in the past that cancer can affect children of their age. They’ve started to understand through this that cancer does exist.”
Erin Greco, Owen and Nadia’s mother, agreed.
“They know people who have been affected by cancer, so it hits home for them, too,” she said. “When Alex died, she was Owen and Madison’s age. For them, I think it’s very important. It makes it a little bit more real to them.”
Madison King and Owen Greco noted that the cause struck an especially personal chord for them.
“We go to Cicero El, and our librarian was out a lot last year because she had cancer,” Madison said.
They also recognized the connection to children worldwide suffering from the disease, as well as their own connection to Alex Scott.
“This is for childhood cancer, and Alex died at our age,” Owen said. “We’re children. Lots of people are affected by it.”
The kids were happy to be a part of an activity that could allow them to have fun while making a difference at the same time.
“It’s fun,” Madison said, “and it’s nice that we’re donating to kids who have cancer so they can get better.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.