Have you noticed how witty and self-assured some kids are (much more so than us adults)? They're funny, quirky, confident and oddly enough always seem to know exactly what they want to say. How many times have you seen a video on the internet featuring a kid singing, dancing or simply saying something hilarious to their unsuspecting parents? Who can forget the future superstar 9-year-old Sophia Grace singing Nicki Minaj's hit song Super Bass, which brought her from England all the way to Los Angeles to meet Minaj on the Ellen DeGeneres Show?
In my job it's easy to get bogged down in the seriousness of childhood cancer, and rightly so. It's a serious disease that warrants serious attention; but it's important to remember exactly who we are fighting for -- these unique, quirky, funny and impressive children who deserve the opportunity to grow up. One of the perks of my job as Co-Executive Director of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (and Alex's dad!) is meeting kids from all walks of life. Whether they are young volunteers who set up their own front yard lemonade stands, students at a school learning about the value of giving back or even children who are battling cancer themselves; it never ceases to amaze me just how insightful and carefree kids can be. On a daily basis I'm privy to the stories of children undergoing treatment and know all too well what their families are going through. I have the opportunity to relay these stories often during speaking engagements or TV interviews, but what I don't always have the chance to share are the stories of meeting these young volunteers and childhood cancer fighters. They're always fun, but never predictable.
I thought I had seen and heard everything on my visits to talk about my daughter Alexandra "Alex" Scott, but one day I realized that kids always have the ability to surprise you. I was presenting at a school with Jacqueline Davies, who is the author of The Lemonade War book series. From the moment Jacqueline started speaking, a young student raised his hand. He was persistent and kept raising his hand throughout Jacqueline's talk and when I started my talk his hand stayed in the air. We assured him that we would get to questions later. Finally when it was time to take questions, he insisted he needed the microphone, so we relented. His question was, "I lost a tooth," which turns out not to be a question at all. That was it, he had his hand in the air the entire time to share that he had lost a tooth a few weeks earlier. I have to give him credit; he was determined to share his news with the school and found the perfect platform. No one ever said kids weren't smart!
At this same school visit, someone who wasn't able to attend also took me by surprise. I had stayed after the presentation to meet students at their annual Fun Fair. A young girl came up to me to give me a letter and told me that she was in the class who had sung a beautiful song for me earlier and she missed out on singing. Her letter said that she was at the hospital being fitted for a wheelchair that day. She explained to me how she had surgery and was having trouble with her legs and how sorry she was to not be able to sing for me and to listen to my talk. She was so kind and considerate, she certainly made a difference in my life that day.Finally, there's Cole Fitzgerald. What can I say about Cole -- he's a childhood cancer survivor and has a personality all his own. I can remember the first time I met him I had gotten the impression that Cole was shy; boy, was I wrong. When Cole isn't hanging out with his sisters, playing baseball or going to karate, he can usually be found making people laugh. He always has something funny to say, and as evidenced by the video below, he knows how to score the big interview. When we had a pizza party at CBS Philadelphia for our hero families, it didn't take long for Cole to find his place -- in front of the camera. I happened to be out of town when this event took place, but Cole found the big interview, my wife Liz. CBS captured the entire thing on film, and I wanted to share a glimpse of Cole's character with you.
As we all know, childhood cancer is a serious topic, and seeing these children and young supporters having the opportunity to be their own funny selves inspires me to work even harder toward finding a cure. Alex surprised all of us with her will and determination and now those kids who are continuing her legacy can inspire us all with their unique personalities. It's important to remember that these kids are just that, kids, and their individual character and what they have to share with the world is exactly why Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation exists.
Follow Jay Scott on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LemonadeJay