Turning Lemons Into Lemonade and Fighting Childhood Cancer at L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade

This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.

They say that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That is exactly what Alex’s Lemonade Stand does, both literally and figuratively, raising money with the goal of ending childhood cancer.

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Alex’s Lemonade Stand was created in 2000 by then-4-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004).

Alex was a neuroblastoma patient who decided to help raise money to help other children with cancer and held a charity lemonade stand in front of her home. In just one day, she raised $2,000, which she gave to her doctors. By the time she passed away in 2004, at the age of 8, she had raised, with the help of others, more than $1 million.

More than 10 years later, Alex’s Lemonade Stand has raised more than $127 million with the money going to funding more than 650 cutting-edge research projects, creating a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment and developing resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.

One of the events created to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade. Inspired by The Great Chefs Event in Philadelphia that has been benefiting Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for more than a decade, James Beard winner Suzanne Goin, Caroline Styne (Lucques, AOC, Tavern) and David Lentz (The Hungry Cat) brought the event to their home city of Los Angeles in 2009.

To date, the Los Angeles event has raised more than $3.2 million to fund childhood cancer research. And, on Saturday, Sept. 10, the seventh annual L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade took place at UCLA’s Royce Quad

Celebrities, chefs, wineries and spirit brands and more than 2,000 people, including children, came together for an afternoon of fantastic fare, wine and cocktails, children’s activities, silent and live auctions and much more. There were more than 50 chefs from around the country, as well as more than 50 wineries and nine spirits who all graciously donated their time and talent to the cause. Speaking with a few of the participants, everyone was in agreement that the event is one of the best food and wine events of the year.

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Nancy Oakes and Dana Younkin from Boulevard Restaurant in San Francisco were serving up delicious octopus and artichoke caponata. This year was their fifth year participating in L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade. As they both reiterated, L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade is a lovely event that gives them a chance to network with other chefs all for a good cause. It is also a chance to “get out of the Bay Area and experience a real summer day.”

For the second year in a row, Roger Morrison from Jardesca California Aperitiva participated, serving refreshing glasses of the aromatic aperitif made in Sonoma with three wine grapes, eau du vie and 10 botanicals. Like Epicurus, who is on their bottle, says, “Wealth is not measured by what you own but by what you enjoy.”

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With good food, cool people and a good cause, what is there not to love? This is an event of pure enjoyment.

New to the event was Santa Barbara winemaker Steve Clifton of La Voix Winery and Palmina. Not only was he impressed by the strong presence of Santa Barbara wines at the event, but he also felt the sense of camaraderie between the restaurants, wineries and attendees.

With chefs including Adam Perry Lang, Giada De Laurentiis, Michael Voltaggio, April Bloomfield, Nancy Silverton, Chris Bianco, Donald Link, Jonathan Waxman, Michael Cimarusti, Marc Vetri and many more coming together to cook for childhood cancer cures and celebrities including Jimmy Kimmel, Timothy Olyphant, Laura Dern and many more in attendance, the 2016 L.A. Loves Alex’s Lemonade raised more than $1 million.

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Co-host Caroline Styne was beaming. “This is incredible,” she said. “This year we had chefs pair up and share tables and we had more participants than ever from all over, from California, New York, Florida, Illinois, Philadelphia, Arizona, Nevada, New Orleans, Oregon, Washington, Alabama, Ohio and Canada. It is a rare but in this case, they call us to participate and are willing to come on their own. It is so joyous and heartbreaking at the same time. But it is gratifying for everyone who comes as we are a part of something bigger.”

There are so many ways to get involved and be a part of raising money to cure childhood cancer. Even children can get involved, setting up their own lemonade stands and donating the proceeds to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. To learn more about Alex and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, go to www.alexslemonade.org.

Read the story in the Napa Valley Register.

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