Thursday, June 12, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons

When I was young, my little sister and I would spent most summers back east. My mom is from a little town called Spring Lake in New Jersey. From the week after school was out to the week before school started again, life was nice at the Jersey shore. Most days were spent at the beach: boogie boarding during low tide, running to and from the North End salt water pool, playing (harmless) tricks on Benny's from under the boardwalk. Sometimes we would bike into town with my cousins. Third Street was such an adventure (at 1/2 mile away) where we would try to scrape together enough change to buy candy or soda at the five and dime, sniff the fresh chocolates in Jean Louise, try to find my Aunt Joan's memorial tile under the sand near the playground, or attempt to "fish" in Spring Lake with a found branch, some string, chewed gum, and whatever we justified as bait. At the end of the day, if we had enough energy after swim team and rising with the sun to train as junior guards, we would all trek down to my Aunt Kathy's basement where - somehow - seven kids managed to entertain themselves for hours playing Barbie video games, braiding our hair so little white girls looked like Rastafarians, writing music with the three chords we knew on guitar ("Oh, Dairy Queen" was a favorite) or creating our own game. To this day, I'll never forget the epic collaboration of "Two-Bat-Soc/Hock Swing." Our parents generally knew where we were, but the town was safe (circa mid 1990s) and we were largely responsible for ourselves.

Photos taken during a Fall visit: North End, town, Jean Louise, and Spring Lake park

By far, one of my favorite summer activities (and business ventures) was the McBride lemonade stand. My cousins and I all have different last names because our moms are sisters, but our family/their maiden name is McBride. The lemonade stand was magical and rare. Our timing had to be strategic. We had to convince our moms to stay home and help us make lemonade, which was difficult because they lived at the beach. Maybe a weekend day when it would be too crowded. Then... location, location, location! We were prime real estate. My grandparents house (and my home for the summer) was a block and a half from Ocean Ave. Out-of-towners (Benny's) would park miles up our street to walk to the beach, passing by - you guessed it - our lemonade stand. Boom. We were in business.

the lemonade stand crew

I was quite the leader. I'm fairly certain it was me who designated people's roles and responsibilities according to rank (age) and I would have to make some adjustments if the neighborhood kids wanted to join in on the action. It was a long day of hustle and bustle and we would turn out product like no neighborhood kids could dream. You know how the funniest memories stick with you... well I remember that one time, maybe our last time, we made $80 in a day probably charging $0.50 per cup. We were very proud. would hope to think, if it had been around at the time, that we would've donated our $80 to Alex's Lemonade Stand, the national movement to fight childhood cancer, "one cup at a time." Alexandra Scott bravely battled neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer, and in 2000, at 4 years old, announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to benefit her children's hospital. (Learn more about Alex here.)

Thus, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged to help find a cure for children with cancer. Her goal was to raise $1 million for research, and she met that goal just two months before she lost her battle with cancer in 2004. Ten years later, the organization has now raised more than $80 million to fund 450 childhood cancer research projects at 94 top hospitals and institutions in the US and Canada. Just last weekend, ALSF celebrated #NationalLemonadeDays with thousands kids all across the United States.

I don't about you, but to this day, I always stop for a lemonade stand. This summer is the perfect chance for you to take a stand for childhood cancer with a stand of your own. ALSF makes it super easy for you plan your own lemonade stand, register the event with them, spread the word in your community, and send in your donation. You can even download the Fundraising Kit and PDF Guide to get started!

You can organize it with your neighborhood, troupe, business, or camp for a birthday party, graduation celebration, or plain ol' summer day! (P.S.! Parents, babysitters, and organizers-- there are adorable invitation, flyer, and template downloads available on the website!!) Check out some inspirational lemonade stands from the thousands of supporters who answered the challenge, June 6-8, 2014 #OneCupAtATime.

So... when are you going to host your Alex's Lemonade Stand?

For your event:
Before losing her battle at the age of 8, Alex stirred for kids like her who were fighting childhood cancer. Who Do You Stir 4?
  1. Download a sign at
  2. Write down who or what inspires you to #Stir4ACure, whether it's a family member, friend, Alex, or hope to everyone battling cancer
  3. Take a photo holding your #Stir4ACure sign
  4. Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #Stir4ACure and tagging @ToysRUs

ALSF first partnered with Toys“R”Us in 2011 to help raise funds and awareness for the organization and to support its mission to find a cure for childhood cancer. Since then, proceeds have reached almost $6 million to help ALSF fund pediatric cancer research and support families affected by cancer.

You can go into any Toys“R”Us store on Saturday, June 21 from 12pm – 3pm for a special Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation event. Click here to learn more.

What do you think of hosting your own Alex's Lemonade Stand this summer? 
Have you before? Share in the comments below!