Have you ever been in a gymnasium filled with nearly 2,000 screaming middle school students? Sounds a little scary, doesn't it? Well take it from me, it's not; instead, the experience I am referring to is inspiring and one that leaves you looking at the world in a new way.
Let me start with some background on this... seven or eight years ago a not-so-friendly sports rivalry existed between two neighboring middle schools, Haverford and Paxon Hollow, based in the suburbs of Philadelphia. The athletic directors of these schools decided to try to bring the kids together, and so, the idea for an event they named the Potter Cup was born. The rules of the Potter Cup are simple -- the school that wins two out of three sporting events takes home the prestigious Potter Cup (not to mention bragging rights) for one whole year. The teams compete in boys and girls basketball and wrestling. Though on the surface this seems like a heated competition, really the plan was to instill in the student bodies a sense of good sportsmanship and pride while working to win the trophy. That first year was a success, but there seemed to be an element missing.
When the next year rolled around, the administrators began talking about bringing back the Potter Cup, but they had an idea that allowed the kids to get even more out it. If the students were helping people and connected to a cause, the competition would take on a larger meaning. So, they added a charity component, and this is where my relationship with the Potter Cup begins. It was decided among the two rival schools that their competition would contribute to a movement started by a young girl from a neighboring town who was raising money for childhood cancer by way of a lemonade stand. It was something that they felt the students could relate to, especially since the idea was created by someone close to their age.
That young girl was my daughter, Alexandra "Alex" Scott. Alex had been diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, prior to her very first birthday. She would battle the disease for the rest of her life, and it was during one of her treatment cycles that she came up with the idea to host a lemonade stand. Alex was just four-years-old when she asked my wife if she could hold a lemonade stand when she was released from the hospital. When asked what she wanted to do with the money, Alex said she wasn't keeping it, but instead giving it to her doctors to help find a cure for all kids with cancer. And so, our lemonade crusade began. Alex, with the help of volunteers across the country would raise over $1 million in her lifetime and inspire people to continue her legacy -- people like the students who attend Haverford and Paxon Hollow. Since inception (which was eight years ago!), the students at these schools have put their hearts into helping others and have raised over $245,000! In fact, they have raised so much that they have been able to fund an entire childhood cancer research project -- how's that for reaching goals! Who would have thought this was possible; and to do all this while having a good time and reveling in competition (not to mention screaming, just a little bit!).
So, you may be asking... how is listening to 2,000 screaming middle school students an amazing experience? For several reasons, of course! On a personal level, I view it as my job to get the students in cheering mode. As if there wasn't enough competition happening throughout the day, I challenge each side of the gym to scream on my cue to hear who can scream louder! But here's the truth -- the real fun is seeing how motivated these kids are to making a difference. It's been amazing to watch them grow up and become giving adults who will contribute to their communities. Students from the first few Potter Cup events are in college now, and they still come visit us in the office or return for each year's event because the experience molded their lives. It's become a yearly tradition that we look forward to attending, and one that we know will continue to grow. Isn't it amazing to think that two athletic directors came together and started this movement, just like Alex started a lemonade stand movement to cure all kids with cancer? Alex never had the chance to grow up, but these kids are a shining example of what Alex knew even at 4-years-old: when we come together, all things are possible.