September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and we are joining the initiative to raise funds and awareness through Alex’s Million Mile – Run. Walk. Ride. One of the founding members of Alex’s Million Mile and a key player in Alex’s Lemonade Stand is Jay Scott, father of Alex herself. We had the chance to ask him a few questions and get to know a little bit more about Alex’s Million Mile.
FitFluential: It’s amazing how Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation began with one stand, and is now a nationwide foundation raising money for a cure. Did you see this happening when Alex first began her mission?
When Alex first asked to have a lemonade stand, we thought she just wanted money to buy a toy. She asked us to have it during a Connecticut winter, and we obviously said no. She kept asking and asking and finally we asked her, “What is it you want to buy?” She said she didn’t want the money for herself – she wanted to give it to her doctors so they could come up with treatments like she had received. So we let Alex have a lemonade stand in our front yard and we thought no one was going to come. But my wife’s sister made a call to the local newspaper and tons of people came out to her first stand. Alex raised $2,000 at that stand. We sent the money to the hospital and thought that would be the end of it. But Alex brought her stand back every year. Before Alex passed away in 2004 she had raised one million dollars for childhood cancer research, and we are still raising money today. Her idea and her vision began a movement.
FF: What brought about the idea of Alex’s Million Mile – Run. Walk. Ride?
For many years, a group of my friends and I challenged each other on who could run the most miles between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The rules are you have to run everyday and more than 2 miles each day. I love competition and looked forward to the challenge each year. Even as we were testing our physical limits outside every day in the winter weather we were having fun. Then it hit me, “What if we could turn this into a Childhood Cancer Awareness Month event? What if everyone could challenge themselves and go the distance to help kids with cancer?” And that was the beginning of the idea for Alex’s Million Mile.
FF: Jay, I see you’re a fan of distance running yourself. How many miles have you logged so far?
At 12 days into the event, I’ve logged 121 miles. Alex’s Million Mile is a challenge and a fundraising event so more importantly, I’ve raised over $3,300 and my team, Million Mile Maniacs, has raised almost $7,500. My team goal is $10,000 but the total goal of Alex’s Million Mile is to walk, run or ride a million miles and raise a million dollars.
FF: You must meet some amazing people that are a part of Alex’s Million Mile. Can you tell us a little bit about those involved, and how they’ve contributed to the cause?
The great thing about AMM is that anyone at any fitness level can participate. We have 80 year olds who log miles walking the mall. We have kids and schools that log miles at recess. We have competitive athletes that log their miles while they are training for marathons. We even have dogs participating!
AMM is made up of teams. Some are teams of childhood cancer researchers whose work we fund, some are childhood cancer teams where a family affected by the disease has rallied their community, some are businesses looking for a workplace motivator and some are just groups of people who want to make a difference.
No matter how many miles or dollars, it all makes a difference to kids with cancer. Maybe the most inspiring moment I have had was one year a childhood cancer patient who was very weak and sick finished one mile across the entire month. Over the next year she worked really hard to build up her endurance and strength and did one mile on the track.
FF: When people all across the country are joining together for an event like this, how do you think that would have made Alex feel?
Alex was only eight when she passed away, but she was wise beyond her years. Alex knew that if a lot of people got together to do something, big things would happen. And big things have happened. We’ve funded over 700 research projects that are changing the way kids are being treated for cancer. Because of her vision, thousands of families have hope for a cure. Alex would be happy to see so many people in involved and would ask, what more can we do?
FF: Being a part of Alex’s Million Mile is so easy – what are some of the most popular ways to log miles and get involved?
One of the easiest ways to log miles is simply sync your phone or smart device to our website and it will automatically log miles for you. MapMyFitness, Strava and FitBit all integrate into our system so you don’t have to think about it at all. All of your movements will count. Our most popular method of logging miles is walking, but we have lots of people who run, bike, swim, row or any combination. The important thing is to just join or create your own team and get movin’ and fundraisin’!
FF: What are your goals for the foundation going forward?
We want to find better treatments and cure for kids with cancer. We want to put ourselves out of business, knowing that we beat cancer and kids can lead healthy lives. We are doing that by raising money and funding the most promising and innovative research to find those cures. We just launched our Childhood Cancer Data Lab which is taking the best scientists and bioengineering to harness ‘big data’ to look for patterns in research that can advance the pace of discoveries. We just funded 65 Young Investigators who are scientists early in their career to foster their careers and advance their research to beat the disease. We are helping families now through our Travel for Care program which helps offset the financial burden of families getting to critical treatments. Anyone can help by getting involved, and we are not going to stop until there is a cure for all kids.