How my brother shaped my career aspirations

Director of Audience Engagement Maggie Fitzgerald shares how her brother’s cancer diagnosis fostered a love for journalism throughout her life.


I watched the news on TV every day with my family growing up. Newscasts like 6ABC Action News, CBS Sunday Mornings and World News Tonight were regularly playing in my family room. But it wasn’t until I saw a live production with my own eyes that I realized journalism was my calling. 

My family and I have served as ambassadors for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation since I was five years old. My younger brother, Cole, was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma at two years old and was given just weeks to live. 

After a quick Google search, my parents stumbled upon ALSF and the story of Alex Scott, a little girl who had faced the same disease as Cole. When she was just four, Alex held her first childhood cancer fundraiser in her front yard and raised more than $2,000. 

Alex raised $1 million and inspired a legacy of hope and cures for childhood cancer by the time of her death in 2004. Her work continues to this day through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. 

My family was immediately inspired by Alex Scott’s mission of selling lemonade to raise funds for childhood cancer research and became an ambassador family while Cole was in treatment. 

Cole beat the odds and went on to be cancer-free for 15 years. 

We spent a considerable amount of my childhood raising money and awareness while speaking to sponsors about the importance of funding childhood cancer research.

CBS Philadelphia served as the media sponsor for various ALSF events throughout the years, and we soon became involved in the station’s CBS3 Alex’s Lemonade Telethon held during ‘Lemonade Days,’ an annual event in June that raises more than $1 million for the foundation. 

A key portion of the telethon consists of sit-down interviews with “Hero Families,” who speak about their journey with childhood cancer. We shared our story about Cole’s battle on-air to inspire others to donate to the cause.


I can remember looking around the set at the CBS station in Spring Garden during our first year of involvement with ALSF. I was mesmerized by the lights, the cameras and the anchors. It was the first time I could picture my future. 

I didn’t fully realize it then, but I learned about the power of storytelling in real-time and just how impactful the entire production was in raising awareness about childhood cancer and ALSF. 

I was hired as a Broadcast News Intern at CBS Philadelphia for my first college internship in June 2022. I worked hands-on with the producers and talent I grew up watching each year on TV and at the telethon. It was a full-circle experience working alongside some of the best talent in Philadelphia, especially Ukee Washington, who became good friends with my brother over the years. 

In August 2022, my family received the news we hoped to never hear again — Cole’s cancer had returned. 

After a few scans at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Cole was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Pancreatoblastoma. It was a completely separate disease from his original diagnosis as a toddler. Cole immediately began chemotherapy and radiation treatment despite a low survival rate and no known cure.


My family sat down with Ukee for a live interview slot at last year’s CBS Telethon. It was the last time my family and I spoke on TV with Cole. He spoke about having the “gloves on” once again and how Alex’s Lemonade changed his life.

Cole passed away on Dec. 15, 2023, after his 18-month battle. He never stopped advocating for more research.

My family is still adjusting to life without him, but we are actively speaking out about Cole’s story and raising awareness about rare diseases like his. 

I never realized how much my brother steered my entire life until he was gone. I may have never considered a career in journalism if my family wasn’t introduced to Alex’s Lemonade and the CBS telethon. 

I miss Cole immensely and think about him every day. I wish I could thank him. What I know now is I’m excited to pursue the career Cole unknowingly bestowed upon me.  

I learned firsthand that shining light on stories like Cole’s truly is an act of service. I’m excited to be a storyteller both on and off camera, carry on my brother’s legacy and use my voice for good.

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