Medical care and lemonade

May 19, 2006

Two years ago, an 8-year-old Pennsylvania girl named Alexandra Scott - Alex for short - died of a virulent form of cancer known as neuroblastoma.

Four years prior to that, Alex had become so concerned about the cost of her treatment that she set up a lemonade stand in her front yard.

The idea grew and her goal became to raise $1 million for cancer research by setting up lemonade stands in all 50 states.

According to The Associated Press, the little girl learned she would reach that goal shortly before her death. Now the foundation her parents set up will begin selling bottled lemonade in stores this week.


The Scott family is also hoping that its Lemonade Days event, planned June 9-11, will see 50,000 people all around the U.S. open their own lemonade stands.

There are three lessons here. The first is that all of the world's brave people aren't adults. Faced with cancer, this child fought back by raising money, first for her bills and then for research.

The second lesson is that when people can see a need, they will usually do what they can to meet it. If you tell people that you're raising money for cancer research, they may or may not respond. But if you tell them that you're fundraising to cure the kind of cancer that killed Alex, the dollars come rolling in.

There is a third lesson we see and we hope that bringing it up doesn't cast a pall on what has been accomplished by Alex and her many supporters.

Over the years, how many times have you purchased items at a bake sale or attended an event to raise money for someone's medical bills?

Our question is this: Why, in the richest country in the world, should the quality of someone's medical care depend on how many cookies are sold or on the number of people who buy tickets to a dance?

It shouldn't and it's time to take another look at the nation's health-care system. What Alex and the Scott family have done is admirable, but having cancer shouldn't require a child to become an entrepreneur. We can do better in this country and we hope Alex's case is motivation enough to try.

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