It all started when 4-year-old Alexandra Scott got the idea to open a lemonade stand near her home in Connecticut. She'd been battling a cancer identified as neuroblastoma since she was a year old, and she wanted to do something to raise money for cancer research. That first stand ended up raising $2,000, and others began getting involved. More stands were opened and thousands more dollars were raised. Alex Scott kept fighting, and in 2004 she went public with her wish to have raised at least $1 million for cancer research by the end of that year.
One of the people who read about Alex Scott's goal was Chuck Zacney, who co-owned then 2-year-old Afleet Alex as a partner in Cash Is King Stable. Touched by the little girl's bravery and generous spirit, he started making anonymous donations to Alex's Lemonade Stand from the colt's earnings to help Alex meet her million-dollar goal. Alex Scott died in August 2004, but by December 31 of that year, Alex's Lemonade Stand had raised a total of $1.5 million.
Zacney wanted to keep helping, and he thought that because of Afleet Alex's name, a charity campaign tied to the colt could bring continued publicity to Alex's Lemonade Stand. So he contacted Alex's parents, Liz and Jay Scott, and got their blessing to publicize the fact that a portion of Afleet Alex's earnings were going to support Alex's Lemonade Stand. The equine Alex turned out to be a pretty good racehorse -- in fact, he was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the champion 2-year-old male -- and his feats helped keep Alex's Lemonade Stand in the public eye.
Then 2005 rolled in, and Afleet Alex kept rolling. After a big win in the Arkansas Derby, he was going to the Kentucky Derby as a horse with a real chance. So was Alex's Lemonade Stand, courtesy of Churchill Downs management. Liz Scott and Chuck Zacney had to jump through a lot of hoops to make it happen, but on Derby Day, there was Alex's Lemonade Stand in the Churchill Downs infield.
What happened next was pure magic of the kind Walt Disney would have heartily approved. Television journalists covering the Derby found the story connecting Afleet Alex and Alex's Lemonade Stand absolutely irresistible and gave it extensive coverage. Even though the colt ended up third, Alex's Lemonade Stand had become the feel-good story of the spring. The publicity brought in more donations, more volunteers wanting to help, and more corporate sponsorship. When Afleet Alex headed to the Preakness Stakes, Alex's Lemonade Stand went with him, setting up a stand in the Pimlico infield.
Even Disney couldn't have scripted what Afleet Alex did that day. Nearly brought to his knees when Scrappy T veered into him at the top of the stretch, Afleet Alex literally picked himself up off the dirt to win drawing away. Combined with the publicity he'd already generated, the sensational race helped male Alex's Lemonade Stand a household word. Afleet Alex's powerful victory in the Belmont Stakes three weeks later -- with Alex's Lemonade Stand once again selling lemonade on the track grounds -- added icing to the cake. Afleex Alex never raced again, but the tremendous boost provided to Alex's Lemonade Stand by the colt's Triple Crown campaign kept snowballing. In 2005, Alex's Lemonade Stand ended up raising $4 million.
The story doesn't stop there. Building on the solid foundation provided by Chuck Zacney's generosity (which earned Cash Is King Stable a special Eclipse Award in 2005), Alex's Lemonade Stand has continued its work. FOX Sports reports that as of April 2015, Alex's Lemonade Stand has raised over $100 million to fund cancer research at over 100 North American hospitals and research institutions.
Afleet Alex may someday be forgotten as a sire and even as a racehorse. But for the thousands of children benefiting from the research generated by Alex's Lemonade Stand, his legacy lives on.