How a Little Girl's Lemonade Stand Raised $110 Million

Season 5 Episode 317
Aired on 10/17/2015 | CC tv-14
As the saying goes, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"...and that's exactly what an 8-year-old inspiration named Alexandra "Alex" Scott did before her death in 2004.

Alex's parents, Jay and Liz, first noticed that something was wrong with their little girl the week of her first birthday. They took her to the emergency room, and doctors discovered a baseball-sized tumor growing on her spine. Alex was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, and underwent surgery to remove the tumor, but the disease had spread. Doctors told Jay and Liz that Alex would never walk, but she defied the odds and surpassed all expectations.

Then, when Alex was just 4 years old, she announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. "I said, 'Oh, that's great, but it's really hard to raise a lot of money selling lemonade,'" Liz said in 2004. "She said, 'I don't care, I'll do it anyway.'"

That first year, Alex raised $2,000. By the time she was 8 years old, there were 200 lemonade stands held across the country in her honor, raising more than $200,000 for pediatric cancer research. "She's everything not just that you want your kids to be, but you want to be, as a person," Liz said. "It makes me feel proud."

When Alex and her parents were guests on the Oprah Show in 2004, Alex revealed the secret to her success. "I use Country Time Lemonade," Alex said with a smile. Sadly, two months later, Alex lost her battle with cancer. At the time, she'd raised more than $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life.

Now, 11 years later, Jay and Liz share an update from the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation headquarters, located just outside Philadelphia. "Alex's Lemonade Stand has now raised over $100 million—probably about $110 million at this point—and we've funded over 500 research projects all across the country, looking for new treatments for all types of childhood cancer," Jay says.

Over the years, Liz says they've been profoundly affected by the kindness and generosity of strangers. "We've been so fortunate to see how many wonderful people there are in the world and how many people are willing to help. ... It's really changed my whole perspective on life. It's made me truly believe in the power of people to change the world," Liz says. "I couldn't have asked for anything more positive to come from something no parent wants to go through."

Watch as Jay and Liz share more about how Alex's Lemonade Stand is helping children around the world.