Alex's Virtual Lemonade Stand Team Wins Penn's Models of Excellence Award

On Friday April 6, 2010 the Alex’s Virtual Lemonade Stand team at the University of Pennsylvania was awarded a Models of Excellence Honorable Mention Award. Introduced in 1999, the Models of Excellence Award program recognizes notable staff member accomplishments at Penn that reflect initiative, leadership, increased efficiency and a deep commitment to service.

The Alex's Virtual Lemonade Stand Team at Penn collaborates each year for the past four years with the Lower Merion School District and with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in a two-week project to raise money for pediatric cancer research. The Alex’s Virtual Lemonade Stand Team at Penn is led by Heather Weisse Walsh, Manager of Educational Services at MAGPI, who each year manages the technical and organizational details to allow for schools across the U.S. and the world to participate in the program through interactive videoconferencing and web streaming. In addition, the event incorporates different fun programs and contests to encourage student involvement and to promote a sense of community spirit. Kids around the world from kindergarten through high school raised a total of $24,000 last year, and over $60,000 over the past three years by hosting lemonade stands and holding other fundraising events.

The Alex's Virtual Lemonade Stand project consists of several components that make this exciting annual service project engaging for all involved. The special kick-off videoconference includes a Lemon Spirit Rally Contest where schools show off their “lemony-ness” in performances from step teams to dramatic presentations, to original rap songs, etc.  The school with the most “lemonade spirit” during the videoconference wins the Spirit Award. Use of a blog encourages schools and students to share their fundraising ideas and successes and provides ongoing updates on the amounts raised. The “Make A Difference” Commercial Contest gives students an opportunity to think about how they can make a difference in their community and then express that though the use of digital media by creating a 45 second "commercial spot." The Lemonade Stand Poster Contest helps students get the word out about their fundraising projects. Lemonade Bingo helps little ones stay engaged during the videoconference events by getting them involved in a scavenger hunt game which results in a unique lemonade bingo board. The Wrap-Up Project Collage Videoconference Event is a celebration of each school’s accomplishments.

The end result of the two week project is a highly successful event that has raised money for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a national organization with Greater Philadelphia roots, that grew out of the lemonade stand started in 2000 by then four-year-old Alex Scott shortly after she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer.  She wanted to raise money for pediatric cancer with the hope of finding a cure. Alex held an annual lemonade stand in her front yard until she died four years later. Her story has inspired many and their contributions to the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation have raised more than $10 million for childhood cancer research. Much of the money has been raised in small amounts during the past 10 years through many “grass roots” efforts across the country and around the world like those of the award-winning Alex’s Virtual Lemonade Stand project. 

For the last three years, the Alex's Virtual Lemonade Stand project has raised over $60,000 and has become a "Top 100" lemonade stand for the Foundation. “Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has been honored to partner with MAGPI since 2006,” says Gillian Kocher, spokesperson for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. “The Alex’s Virtual Lemonade Stand Project, which brings schools across the country together as they host lemonade stands for pediatric cancer, has raised an innumerable amount of awareness, teaching the important lesson that you are never too young to start making a difference. In addition, the funds raised through this unique virtual connection of schools has placed the MAGPI Virtual Project among the top 100 fundraisers! ” 

For information on this year's Alex's Virtual Lemonade Stand project see the project website at http://magpi.net/Community/Programs/Alexs-Virtual-Lemonade-Stand.

For more information on the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, please visit http://www.alexslemonade.org/.