Girl who started Alex's Lemonade Stand is dead
By Marc Schogol and Jennifer Moroz
Inquirer Staff Writers
She lived only 8 years, but she did a lifetime of good.
Alexandra Scott, the Main Line girl whose nationally acclaimed lemonade stands raised nearly $1 million for pediatric cancer research, died yesterday.
"At about 4 p.m. today Alex passed on peacefully with us holding her hands," her parents, Jay and Liz Scott, said in an e-mail last night. Alex's health had severely deteriorated in the last several days, and her family said it knew the end was near.
Instead of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where Alex had long been a patient for neuroblastoma, an often fatal form of pediatric cancer, her mother said that Alex died at home, sitting on her favorite spot on the couch, surrounded by her favorite blanket and pillow, looking out the window, her mother and father by her side.
She drifted away with her eyes fixed on the trees outside and a stained-glass angel hanging in the window, Liz Scott said.
"She went as peacefully as we could have hoped for. She just slipped away... . You could see when she was ready. She let off a big sigh, and went off to sleep. She was very calm. For that, we're grateful. You're always fearful it's going to be scary."
Said Jay Scott: "She was a tough girl. She fought very hard for a long time."
Alex's failing health was evident on June 12, when she barely was able to manage an appearance at a lemonade stand at Penn Wynne Elementary School, near her home.
Because of her struggle with her disease and her determination to fight it personally and for others, "Alex's Lemonade Stands" were held that day in all 50 states, as well as Canada and France. The young girl, who began her campaign with a single front-yard lemonade stand and who, before this year, had raised a total of about $200,000, had set a goal of raising $1 million this year.
Liz Scott said her daughter's quality of life had dropped off in the last couple of months, especially since the June 12 lemonade stand.
"Since then, she's been deteriorating at a rapid pace. It really seemed she was determined to get through June 12."
With money raised that day and since, Alex had passed the $700,000 mark, and more lemonade stands were opening almost daily. Also, Volvo of North America had pledged to hold a fund-raising event in the fall and assured Alex that she would reach her $1 million total, her mother said.
"Selling lemonade is fun," Alex said when she was 6 and not yet as wiped out by the disease and her treatments. "Giving money to the hospital is the best."
Alex's lemonade stands began four years ago when the family was living in Connecticut. Alex told her mother she wanted to sell lemonade and give the proceeds to the hospital where she was then being treated. She personally ran her stand and raised $500.
The following year, the family moved to the Philadelphia area so Alex could be treated at Children's Hospital. Once again, Alex decided to have a lemonade stand, with the proceeds going to her new hospital. On June 9, 2001, Alex's lemonade in the Philadelphia area raised more than $12,000.
Using some of this year's contributions, Alex and her parents last month made a $100,000 donation to Children's Hospital, which has been the recipient of much of the money the stands have raised. On that day, the hospital held an Alex's Lemonade Stand of its own.
Alex recently was honored by the Philadelphia School District, which announced it would hold lemonade stands in a number of summer schools, and by Philadelphia City Councilman Juan F. Ramos, who, in addition to presenting Alex with a resolution honoring her, said he would work at the district's stands.
Before the June lemonade stands, she and her family had appeared on Oprah Winfrey's TV program and the Today show. It was Alex who insisted on going - whose goal probably helped her go on longer than she otherwise might have, her family and doctors said.
When she was in public the last few months, she either was in a child-size wheelchair or carried by one of her parents, who also have three sons.
In interviews, Alex said little beyond "yes" and "no" or just nodded or shook her head. But even when visibly in pain, she also visibly could be seen fighting it.
Even as her quality of life worsened, Alex was determined, her mother said.
"She had a lot of faith and faith in research and trying the newest things," Liz Scott said.
For the last several years, Alex had been treated almost entirely with experimental drugs because standard treatments had ceased to be effective.
"Each week was progressively worse," said Scott, describing the last few weeks of Alex's life. "She really was slipping away... . Most important to us was she didn't become aware that the chemo wasn't working. She didn't express that fear that she would have expressed in the past."
With the money already raised and pledged, Scott said last night that Alex "knew she was going to hit a million."
Dr. Garrett Brodeur, chief of the division of oncology at Children's Hospital and one of Alex's doctors, said last night that she was "a remarkable girl."
"Children are pretty amazing in terms of how they deal with serious illness and malignancy," Brodeur said. "But without exaggerating or being hyperbolic, I think Alex showed an exceptional degree of maturity in terms of how she dealt with things."
Brodeur said he was confident that Alex knew that the research she was helping to fund would likely not benefit her in her lifetime.
"I think it was more: 'I would like other children not to have to go what I've gone through.' And I think that's what motivated her to do this."
Brodeur said the money and the raised awareness of neuroblastoma "would not have happened without her commitment and her amazing foresight as to what a little child could do with some help and with the example that she set. She's been so mature and stoic and so committed to this cause."
Liz Scott said the family would set up a memorial fund at Children's Hospital in her daughter's honor.
Funeral arrangements had not been completed, but Scott said the funeral would be held at Church of the Redeemer, an Episcopal church in Bryn Mawr.
Scott said her daughter's legacy would live long after her.
"Talk about having a purpose in life. She defined that for us, for sure. If anyone doubted there was a purpose in life, she proved it. And we're going to miss her."