Posted on : 11-01-2010 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Inspirational, Living in Philadelphia
Tags: Alex Scott, Alex's Lemonade, Lemon Ball
I know all to well how life throws various things at you, and somehow we live through it. This past Saturday I had the privilege to attend the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation 2010 Lemon Ball. I am not going to say I did not have mixed emotions, I knew, just like everyday, I would think about our Angel Gia. I also knew we would relive some moments in life that at time we would love to forget. At the same time we love the cause and we wanted to learn more about it. The event was filled with various life changing stories that hit close to home for us. Over the years I have been a part of many charity events, but none could ever measure up to the beauty, energy, and inspiration radiated throughout the Lemon Ball. I know that may sound odd for a charity dedicated to a cause like pediatric cancer, a cause all too close to my heart. Walking into the hotel you were immediately greeted by kids at a lemonade stand happily offering a cold drink or guide you through the hotel to the event. Upon arrival you were greeted by more high energy volunteers happy to help get you in the spirit of the evening. The yellow gowns and accessories made the room shine as if it were the brightest of days.
I love when companies encourage employees to participate in charitable events. I work for one such company with our Comcast Cares Day. My wife also works for a company that values this way to give back to the community they serve. The company, Reed Technology, part of LexisNexis and Reed Elsevier, encourages every employee to take 2 days a year days to volunteer for a non-profit organization, while still being paid for the day by the company. During this incredible evening, I learned the story of another Reed Technology employee, Bea Quindlen. It was such a surprise to see someone my wife knew being honored as the Volunteer of the Year. Bea’s story is not what you would expect for a charity like this. She did not have a child with cancer, and I do not believe she was connected to one. She volunteered through her work to participate in a local telethon for the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation. She left the event so inspired, that she became a regular volunteer. Stopping by the office weekly to help out, bringing homemade snacks to keep Jay energized (Jay, since you will be reading it I did hear about the Krimpets, I think I could win! Sorry, inside joke). Bea connected with Jay, Liz and all the other families and friends in this battle. She dedicates so much of her personal time to help others. I just met Bea for the first time on Saturday, and she is not the type to want to be honored, in fact she was so shy in even accepting the award. Her goal was simply to do good things for a foundation made of good people that she cared for. A lesson that is so important for businesses and non-profit groups alike, inspiring positive people influences and energizes so many around them. Bea, thank you for being such a positive influence!
The evening started with a girls dance troop performing to some current hits. They did great, but don’t ask me to name the songs (not really my music!). This was followed by a special performance by American Idol and recording star Jordin Sparks. Jordin was looking much more mature than I remember from American Idol and despite not being her standard performing stage she shared a song close to her heart. She followed this with unique words, that would ring to be true, “Let’s get this party started.” And with those words she sung a much faster paced song and encouraged everyone to get up and dance. She literally disappeared on the dance floor as so many joined her. It was a sight to see.
As is typical in events like this, during the meal you heard from others about the work of the foundation, childhood cancer, and the plans for the organization. There was no overwhelming request for money, or creating a sense of desperation. The event was much more a celebration of the foundation and the life of Alex and so many others that have dealt with pediatric cancer. We were sitting with other families that have personally experienced childhood cancer. It may sound odd to those that have not dealt with it, but we have found it much easier to connect with families that have been through some of these life experiences. There is a stronger bond shared than most other friendships could ever hope to have. It was nice to share that time with them.
The true inspiration for this evening was hearing from Liz and Jay Scott. I have said it before: Liz, Jay and Alex Scott are my heroes. This evening just reinforced all the reasons why. Liz and Jay did not seek the limelight or to even a foundation to do so much good. I think they simply wanted a good life for their family. But life throws you those curve ball sometimes, and you do what you think is best. In this case Alex was diagnosed with cancer, her parents, to achieve the best possible care, moved the family to Philadelphia so they could go to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Alex started a lemonade stand to raise money “to help ALL kids get better.” All of a sudden, the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation was born, and Liz and Jay would see a new path in their life. What was interesting about their talk, they really did not talk about any of this, they spoke more about other families and the researchers for the foundation. They were just so grateful for everyone around them. Their spirit, which is the same spirit of Alex, is what attracts so many people to love this cause. Although I have met Jay before, that night was the first time I had the pleasure to meet Liz. The moment I felt a connection to her was the she tried to answer the question that gets asked all too often, does it get easier as time goes by. This is something that every parent who has lost a child struggles with, but you would be surprised how often it comes up. Liz tried to be tactful in her response saying in some ways it does get better as time goes by, but it is difficult as your realize all that is missed. I can tell you as a parent who lost a child, not a day goes by that you do not miss the child you lost. You are happy to share in the lives of your other children and family, but there is a hole that is not filled. You still experience many of the highs in life but there are moments that are very difficult. She did not say all that. I can understand that. The overall event was upbeat, but I do not think it is within their style to focus on themselves. To them it is about Alex, and what she wanted – helping other kids. Kudos to Liz and Jay on a job well done!
The evening was followed by the live auction, with 1 item I could only wish to afford. Liz makes special lemon cookies, this year she made 14 because Alex would have turned 14 on January 18. The cookies sold for $14,000. Wow!
Key to the evening was truly just having a good time, and that was what was all about. The party got started and dancing took over for a night filled with all the energy of Alex’s amazing lemonade. The whole event was perfect down to every little detail. The sponsors were class acts, especially with Mike and Ike’s presenting Jordin Sparks and Volvo having the car giveaway (purchase ticket for the drawing here). Now as Alex’s Lemonade Foundation embarks on its goal to raise $100 million over the next decade, Liz and Jay should know that they have done is priceless in the minds of all parents that are part of this same fight.