When life gives you lemons, fight childhood cancer with lemonade
Westin Washington National Harbor to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation with fundraiser Sept. 5
In an effort to join the battle against childhood cancer as well as help raise funds and awareness, Westin Washington National Harbor, in partnership with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, will host its second annual Alex’s Lemonade Stand on Sept. 5 at the National Harbor.
The Westin, located in the heart of National Harbor’s waterfront community, will be selling lemonade, cupcakes and other treats as part of its fundraising efforts for the foundation, according to a hotel press release.
“We actually proactively reached out to [Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation] after seeing some of their advertisements,” said Scott Remes, Westin’s corporate sales manager. “After a little bit of research, we discussed it with our team and just felt it was a something we’d really like to get behind and support.”
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, established in 2005, was spearheaded by Alexandra “Alex” Scott who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma as a baby in 1997. Before her death seven years later, 4-year-old Alex told her parents she wanted to hold a lemonade stand and raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer.
While fighting her own cancer, Alex continued to set up lemonade stands every year. As news spread of the remarkable girl so dedicated to helping other sick children, people everywhere were inspired to start their own lemonade stands — donating the proceeds to her cause, according to the foundation’s website.
The foundation, started by Alex’s parents, Liz and Jay Scott, to continue the work that she began, has evolved into a national fundraising movement, raising more than $127 million which has helped fund more than 650 cutting-edge research projects; create a travel program to help support families of children receiving treatment; and develop resources to help people everywhere affected by childhood cancer.
Having hosted an Alex’s Lemonade Stand event for the first time last year, Remes said he and his colleagues at Westin felt that childhood cancer is something that everyone can relate to.
“When you look at some of these kids, they’re just inspiring,” Remes said. “Just the fact that a child so young [like Alex] could turn around and do something like that, it grabs a hold of you. We love kids and kids shouldn’t spend their childhood fighting cancer.”
Remes said Alex’s Lemonade Stand fundraiser is one of the new annual community projects added to the hotel’s repertoire. Funds raised on Sept. 5 will go directly to childhood cancer research — looking for new cures and also to support the affected families.
“The back and forth between the hospitals and different research centers, it can take a toll on a family,” he said. “The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation does an excellent job getting those funds to the right people. In terms of the local area, they actually fund grants for [research groups at] John Hopkins University as well as George Washington University.”
Westin’s General Manager Salem Shaheen said hosting the fundraiser during Labor Day weekend is ideal as National Harbor is a popular des- tination for tourists and people from all over the region.
“Last year was our first year. We did it over Labor Day weekend also and we raised a little bit over $2,000,” said Shaheen. “We enjoy doing it. The whole team gets involved. … We set a whole stand up outside in front of the hotel and make it a fun, all-day event.”
“It feels great,” Remes said. “You get out there and you get to shake hands with a lot of folks from the community. You hear a lot of stories of people that really just connect with it. A lot of people have come here who have been touched by childhood cancer themselves or it’s their children. It gets to your heart and it shakes you in your bones. But at the end of the day, you feel really good about it and people walk away with a smile, knowing they did something special.”
For Shaheen, he gets a lot of satisfaction just knowing his hotel staff is supporting a great cause that is not only near and dear to his heart, but to his wife’s as well, he said.
“[My wife and I] are very supportive of St. Jude’s Hospital. Children, in general, shouldn’t be laying in bed with wires coming out of them and IV tubes,” said Shaheen. “I’ve had friends whose kids have had some type of disease or sickness, but has gotten better at an early age. I’ve had older friends of mine who were in their 30s and have died of cancer. Cancer has been a part of my life for a long time.”
Remes said Westin Washington National Harbor plans to continue supporting the foundation as it seeks to encourage and empower others to get involved.
“We’ve rallied up some huge support from friends, family and just the community at National Harbor itself,” he said. “We do plan to do this event again in the future. We’d love to seek more support from the local area, the county and just getting the word out there and let people know what we’re doing down here.”