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Fighting cancer, one lemonade at a time

Eight-year-old Alexandra Scott, in a battle against malignant tumors, wants to raise $1 million for cancer research. And she just might do it, one lemonade stand at a time.
Alex Scott, 8, diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, asks her mother to dip her paintbrush in a gallon of yellow paint she is using to make a lemonade stand in the family's backyard. Alex is holding her fifth-annual 'Alex's Lemonade Stand' Saturday in hopes of raising $1 million, a goal within reach thanks to the hundreds of stands planned in all 50 states. Jacqueline Larma / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Eight-year-old Alexandra Scott, in a battle against malignant tumors, wants to raise $1 million for cancer research. And she just might do it, one lemonade stand at a time.

Alex started selling lemonade four years ago with one stand and raised $2,000 in a single day. Each year brought more stands, manned by friends and volunteers.

The take so far: more than $200,000, including $15,000 brought in last year by the stand at the Scotts’ suburban Philadelphia.

“She’s determined about anything that’s important to her, whether it’s what kind of ice cream she’s eating or raising money,” said Alex’s mother, Liz Scott. “I think (the stand) does keep her going sometimes.”

This year, on Saturday, all 50 states will have “Alex’s Lemonade Stands” open for business. Alex’s father, Jay Scott, estimates that as many as 1,000 stands will be pouring the icy cold concoction.

Along the East Coast, all 75 stores in the Super Fresh grocery chain will have stands. On the West Coast, in Seattle, a mother of a 4-year-old volunteer persuaded a community theater to hold its garage sale to coincide with “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” day.

In the heartland, Minneapolis, a family whose son has the same type of cancer as Alex — neuroblastoma — will set up shop at a Twins baseball game.

Money pouring in
Even before a drop of lemonade has been sold, money already has been given to stands in Tucson, Ariz., and Kansas City, Mo. The Tucson organizers received a check for $10,000.

“I have yet to pour one glass of lemonade and we’ve already made $250,” said Dr. Mark Mozer, a pediatrician in Kansas City whose own son’s neuroblastoma is in remission.

Next month, a group of homeless people in Houston will sponsor a stand. And this week, the Scotts received a check for $160 from an elementary school in Milton, Vt., that had sold lemonade.

“I think it just shows, you read a lot of bad stuff in the news, it shows how good people really are,” Jay Scott said.

Two days before her first birthday, Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that originates in certain nerve cells. The survival rate for high-risk neuroblastoma, which Alex has, is just 40 percent.

“Alex would have died many years ago if it wasn’t for newer experimental therapies, and I think that’s something she and her parents recognize,” said Dr. John Maris, who has directed Alex’s care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Neuroblastoma is diagnosed in about 700 U.S. children every year.

Though excited about Saturday, Alex has been drained by the chemotherapy and radiation being used to treat a new attack of tumors, her mother said. After seven years of treatment, her cancer is considered incurable.

“She’s tired. She’s exhausted,” Liz Scott said. “Her future has always been uncertain, but I don’t think any of us — me, my husband, her doctor — has felt this pessimistic before.”

Because of her frail condition, her parents and doctor have encouraged Alex to cut back on her fund-raising activities. But she insisted on appearing on NBC’s “Today” show last Friday to publicize the fifth annual “Alex’s Lemonade Stand” day.

'The bravest person I know'
After last year’s stand, the Scotts put out a call over the Internet for help in every state. Advertising fliers were posted on Alex’s Web site, and the Scotts sent out dozens of free Country Time Lemonade coupons.

Alex has given gave $150,000 to her Philadelphia hospital. Thousands more have gone for research in Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and California. This year’s take will also go for research, but the family hasn’t decided yet where.

“Alex will have a big say in that,” Liz Scott said. “She always does.”

Some days Alex feels good, like earlier this week when she saw the new Harry Potter movie. Other days she doesn’t. Every day she lives knowing many of her friends have died of neuroblastoma.

Her mom calls Alex “the bravest person I know,” and she holds out hope her daughter can overcome her disease.

“I’m obviously very proud of her, but it’s more than that,” Liz Scott said. “I feel privileged to be her mom. I admire her.”