Diagnosed April 17th 2007, at the age of 3.5, with NB stage 4.
In the course of two hours we went from having a perfectly healthy, sweet-as-pie, joyous toddler to hearing that he had an aggressive form of cancer and might die. Cancer robbed our child of his softness, his innocence, his curls, and his endurance. It has also revealed some remarkable things. We have a little boy who says “please” and “thank you” as poisons drip into his bloodstream. A little boy who makes the hospital clowns howl with laughter.
And a little boy who learned to read a full 2 years ahead of his peers, by deciphering hospital signs for “operating room,” “radiation,” and “infusion complete.” Throughout 18 months of non-stop treatment, while undergoing pain that neither of his parents would be able to endure, Toby has taught us what it means to live with hope.
To those who want to help:
Before Toby was diagnosed I never gave a thought to children with cancer. My only frame of reference was the strangely bald kids who sometimes appeared in hospital advertising and I always turned my eyes away… it was too painful to think of children suffering. Your willingness to look at our children is the greatest gift I can imagine. Your support and your love give Toby a chance at life. Thank you.
So much about pediatric cancer is out of my control. I’m not a scientist who can develop treatments and eventual cures. I don’t have an endowment or trust to donate and fund new therapies. And I absolutely cannot stop the hands of time, so I know tomorrow close to 50 more kids will be diagnosed with pediatric cancer. But I take comfort in the things I can do – like sharing the stories of Good Cookies who host bake sales. Like the Good Cookie story from Tisha Soladay in Redondo Beach, California, whose words and pictures bring to life the wonderfully ordinary and uniquely extraordinary elements of her Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale. . .in Tisha’s words. . .
“I saw Joan Cusack on Martha Stewart and stopped what I was doing to learn about the cause she was supporting. I immediately knew that a bake sale was something I could handle. I had been looking for an organization to volunteer for, especially one that had to do with children and health, but hadn’t yet found one that was personal to me. I have always wanted to volunteer for Ronald McDonald House since my parents needed their services when I was little, but there is not a location near me. I was very sick at age 10 and was in and out of hospitals and doctors offices for years. Although it wasn’t cancer, it was a very scary time for my family and I and I almost died. I still suffer from two other autoimmune diseases today, so I felt like this was the field I wanted to volunteer for. When I saw the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer segment, I got very excited and immediately went to my computer to learn more. I started calling my closest friends and sending out emails the next day.
We set up at 3pm and shortly after a nasty motorcycle cop tried to shut us down. I explained that I had permission to be there from the city, but he definitely wasn’t in the Christmas spirit and threatened to check it out. Thankfully he never returned! Some of our kids helped out and did a great job selling cookies and holding signs.
Stories like Tisha’s highlight some great ingredients of successful bake sales – inspiration, motivation, determination and fun! Her bake sale story also reminds me we don’t have to control every little aspect of pediatric cancer to make a difference. We can’t all be scientists, and we definitely cannot stop the hands of time. But if each of us contributes what is in our control by hosting a bake sale, ordering cookies, or making a donation, then together, we will raise the funds needed to make the biggest difference of all – we’ll save lives.
Please register your Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale today!
My kids ask for stuff all day long. It’s their job. They ask for something to drink, something to eat, something to do. . .and most of the time, they use the oh-so-polite Magic Word when asking. Frankly, their desires often become reality when they throw in a “please” with their request. But because they are children, they sometimes need a little prompting.
“What is the magic word?” I ask after a less-than-polite demand for more of whatever. Most of the time, they respond with, “Please!”
But on occasion, when in a silly mood, my kids have been known to provide an unconventional, “Abracadabra!” Or when they are with their cousins, the magic word often becomes,”Purple banana!” And regardless of which silly versions are used, you can guarantee the kids always erupt in fits of giggles. Their spirited, wide-open laughter is one of my favorite parts of childhood innocence. And that laughter is also one of the many reasons I get up every morning and work to raise awareness and funds for pediatric cancer. I want to do my part to keep as many kids focused on the silly things in life as possible.
Like the kids in the picture below. At first glance they look carefree, but once you hear their story, you will see wisdom in their eyes. The 5th graders pictured are from Riverside Elementary School in Newport News, VA. Two years ago, they watched their brave friend Tommy Gosser battle Ewings sarcoma, an insidious form of pediatric cancer. As mere third graders, they faced the fear and saddness of cancer and showed their own courage after losing their friend to the disease. Since then, they have regularly supported pediatric cancer fundraising, and as soon as they heard about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, they hosted a bake sale this holiday season, raising over $1,000. Way to go, Riverside 5th Graders – you are Good Cookies, indeed.
Without the support of people like the kids, teachers, and parents from Riverside Elementary, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer couldn’t grant money to scientists who are ready to introduce new, improved treatments for kids battling this disease. But it is going to take many, many bake sales and many, many supporters to guarantee we can keep kids focused on laughter rather than learning, first-hand, about the harsh reality of cancer.
So, what magic words do we need to say to convince you to host a bake sale? Are the magic words the reminder that pediatric cancer is the #1 disease killer of kids under the age of 18 in the US? Are the magic words that scientists are ready and waiting with new treatment options and all they need is funding? Are the magic words that bake sales mean hope to the mommies and daddies of brave pediatric warriors?
Or, quite simply, is the magic word “please?”
Would you please host a Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale? Click here to register to host a bake sale.
Thank you for your support!
Are you looking for a New Year’s Resolution? And by resolution, I don’t mean some unattainable, over-the-top goal that lets you down by, oh, next week. I’m talking about a true life change that you can keep up with, even when everything around you is anything but “resolved.” Well if you need an idea, of course, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer would love for you to adopt supporting us as your New Year’s Resolution. . .all you need is to give from the heart. In 2010 you could. . .
Resolve to host ONE bake sale this year! We encourage bake sales 365 days a year. . .Valentine’s Day is a great time to share your love and show your support for pediatric cancer research.
Resolve to send COOKIES for all of life’s special occasions this year! (Look! Even iVillage agrees!)
Resolve to begin a monthly donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. A $10/month commitment equals about two coffee drinks per month and adds up to $120 in tax deductible giving per year! That’s what I call a sacrifice that I can live with AND gives life!
Happy New Year! We look forward to many new beginnings in 2010!
We just heard from Amanda, an amazing supporter in Naperville, Illinois, who held a bake sale on Sunday, December 21st outside the entrance to her local Trader Joe’s grocery store. At Cookies, we’ve been so excited about her bake sale. Amanda had registered her sale on the website, used many of our online bake sale tools and generally knocked our socks off with planning expertise – donations were flooding in, her location was great and with hot cocoa and cider to offer, she was ready to keep her customers warm on the first official day of Winter.
Then, a crazy thing happened on the bake sale day. It was cold – really cold. Amanda’s bake sale was held on the coldest day in Chicago since 1996! When she went to set up, the temperature was -2 degrees with a windchilld of -20. And she still set up and sold cookies – for an entire hour! Amazing. What’s even more amazing is the $300 she raised in just one hour. Without a doubt, her willingness to stand in the cold paid off for all of us looking to raise money for a cure for pediatric cancers.
With many leftovers, Amanda took the remainder of her goodies to the downtown Chicago Ronald McDonald House later in the week to offer a nice holiday surprise to the families staying in the home away from home. The Ronald McDonald House was extra special to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in December. Just two weeks earlier, Cookies co-founders Gretchen and Larry coordinated a volunteer effort to bake, package and ship 13,000 gourmet cookies to Ronald McDonald Houses across the country. The Witts know the challenges and loneliness of having a sick child and wanted to make sure families staying away from home with sick children during the holidays knew they were thinking about them and wishing them well.
Amanda, thank you for your dedicated effort to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Your bake sale represents the spirit of our goal to change the scary facts about pediatric cancer forever. Happy New Year and STAY WARM!
There are so many bake sale stories to tell, I need more than a few cookies to get through them. I need an uninterrupted, non-stop, bake-sale-blog-a-thon, complete with coffee and quiet, as well as cookies.
Rather than camping out on Thursday night/ Friday morning to get the best deals available on Black Friday 2008, I think I’m going to get up early, order some cookies from the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer cookie sale going on now and write up as many of the amazing, inspiring, wonderful bake sale tales as my hands can stand. Tonight, though, I’ll simply feature one AMAZING Cookie who took Gretchen’s birthday wish and made it her new life mantra: bake sale, bake sale, bake sale.
Meet Jennifer Fish of San Francisco, California. Jennifer is a more than a fan of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sales. She’s the poster cookie for the vision of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Since August, Jennifer has held three bake sales and is currently in the midst of a fourth Cookies endeavor. Here’s a quick rundown of how Jennifer has made Cookies a part of her everyday life.
1. Gretchen’s birthday wish became Jennifer’s birthday party – Jennifer began her bake sale odyssey moments after Gretchen announced her birthday wish for 100 readers of Prince Liam’s blog to host bake sales. She started with an email to all her friends with the subject, “This is very presumptuous but IF anyone wants to know what I want for my birthday I want cookies. I’m serious.” In the email announcement, Jennifer went on to say, “I would love to have a bunch of cookies to sell at various events between now and the end of the year. So . . . if you are in the baking/philanthropic mood, I’d so appreciate any number of any kind of cookie or any baked goods you think I could sell. Frankly, I don’t care if you bake them. If you want to buy your favorite cookies that’s fine, too. Don’t worry about packaging. I now own 2,000 lovely cellophane bags and tissue and am working on the gift tags. I simply want to help Gretchen raise money so other kids do not have to go through the hell Liam is going through.” With 5 minutes of prep time, Jennifer raised $150 that was then matched by her company’s match program. Tips: believe bake sale proceeds can make a difference and be willing to ask for donations.
2. Mitzvah Day is a way to get kids involved – After the success of her birthday bake sale, Jennifer then decided to organize a Temple bake sale as part of Mitzvah Day, which every Temple has. Mitzvah Day makes it easy to get the kids and the congregation involved with baking or selling. Jennifer’s sale tale has a special twist. . .after striking up a conversation about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer on a business flight, Jennifer enlisted Beth Jordan of Clif Bars to be in the Cookies army. Beth was immediately interested in supporting the cause and getting her company involved. Thanks to Beth, 600+ Clif Bars were donated to the Mitzvah Day sale. Tips: make Cookies a part of your life. Talk about it wherever you go. You never know when another good cookie is just waiting for the opportunity to help.
3. Election Day. . .remember our grassroots drive to get 50 sales in 50 states on Election Day? Even though Jennifer already hosted TWO Cookies For Kids’ Cancer bake sales prior to November 4th, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give it another go on Election Day. Her plan: in addition to baked goods, she and co-workers sold ‘recycled’ leftover Halloween candy. They packaged it by color–red candy and blue candy. Tips: If one bake sale is good, three must be better!
The latest news from Jennifer . . . she’s only just begun to spread the word about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Jennifer and a team of volunteers, including Fraya Berg who flew out from NYC to help her, just last week baked 100 lbs of biscotti to send to clients as holiday gifts and included info about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.
You might be waiting for the right moment, the right event, the right timing to have a bake sale. Our message to you – stop waiting. Hosting a bake sale is simply the right thing to do, whether you raise $10 or $1,000. Your bake sale will spread the word to everyone around you about the immediate and desperate need for pediatric cancer funding. And if you cannot host a bake sale, simply click on “Buy Cookies” right now to purchase a dozen or more gourmet cookies from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.
You need more than yummy pastries to raise $2200 in an hour and a half. You need some good cookies. The Linens-N-Things headquarters in Passaic, NJ, is filled with many good cookies, including bake sale organizer Marcia Lemberg, VP for Merchandising.
When you talk to Marcia about the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale held recently at the LNT offices, you realize passion was a key ingredient to success. Marcia has known Liam’s family for years and follows Liam’s progress through the Prince Liam the Brave blog. When Gretchen made her birthday wish of 100 bake sales known, Marcia got busy making Gretchen’s wish come true.
She started with a simple email to the LNT staff, explaining Liam’s battle, the facts of pediatric cancer and the goal in mind. She emphasized Gretchen’s belief that if everyone does a little, together we will do a lot. When Marcia asked for support, more than 70 employees in the office committed to contribute. By the day of the bake sale, Marcia had organized sign-up sheets, a 50/50 raffle, a drawing for more than a dozen fabulous Linens-n-things door prizes and a beautiful display of tablecloth-covered buffets for the goodies.
Just a few of the many bake sale stories of generosity:
· Donated items were more than just store-bought treats. Most of the items sold were home made by employees, including blueberry scones, hand-dipped chocolate pretzels and caramel apples, plus whole pies and cakes.
· Every member of the executive committee came down to the bake sale and made a donation.
· One of the MIS department leaders bought 100 cupcakes for his staff.
· Another employee bought enough cupcakes to feed her 4th-grader’s class after their puppet show.
· A donation jar raised more than $200, just from people who wanted to give.
· The winner of the 50/50 raffle gave the $105 in winnings back to the cause.
· At any given time, more than 100 employees were shopping for treats. EVERY SINGLE ITEM sold.
Marcia’s take-away from the event was pride in her colleagues. She said the bake sale and the cause puts life in perspective. She also has some great tips for future bake sale hosts:
1. Be a hands-on organizer. Create a sign-up sheet for volunteers to track what people are bringing. Follow-up with each person a week before the event to discuss packaging, pricing and signs.
2. Wrap all items. Customers like to grab and go.
3. Provide shopping bags. Customers can collect several small items more easily.
4. Encourage bakers to bring their items arranged in pretty baskets.
5. Non-bakers are welcome! Remind eager volunteers to ask local bakeries for their support.
6. Diversify. Marcia also encouraged co-workers to consider selling their used books at www.cash4books.net. The website buys your books and pays for shipping, enabling sellers to both de-clutter and raise Cookies for Kids’ Cancer money.
If everyone who hears about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer held a bake sale, together we will change the facts of pediatric cancer for the better, forever.
Welcome to the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer blog. Hooray! It’s up! You have no idea how excited we at Cookies for Kids’ Cancer are to post our first bake sale story. Bake sale stories are what we are all about. The entire purpose of this blog is to tell the inspiring and amazing stories of people all over the world (yep, I said it, WORLD) who are holding bake sales to raise money for our cause and our purpose – children’s cancer research and treatment. We hope you find yourself in this spot again and again and again. . .to be inspired and driven to do everything you can to support and spread the word about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Now, without further adieu. . .the story of a bake sale. . .
The second reason: Amy’s 4-year-old son Grier is currently fighting his own battle with Neuroblastoma, the same deadly pediatric cancer Gretchen’s son Liam is battling. That’s right – Amy is a warrior mom – she’s in the midst of an enormous battle against a mean and ugly disease. Amy knows the fears, stresses and ongoing anxieties of pediatric cancer all too well. But you know what? Amy also knows she wants to do whatever it takes to raise the funds needed to find better, safer treatments and a cure for all kinds of children’s cancers. So she jumped at the chance to grant Gretchen’s birthday wish.
With the enthusiastic help of members of Team “Go Grier Go,” as well as donations from supporters all over Charlotte, Amy hosted a bake sale the weekend of September 20-21, during the annual Festival in the Park located just across the street from her house. Pedestrian traffic going in and out of the festival bought everything from lemon bars and bright blue cupcakes to bottles of water. At the end of the marathon, two-day bake sale, Amy’s bake sale team had raised over $2000. And guess what? Her husband’s company is planning to MATCH dollar-for-dollar the funds raised. Now we’re talking about AMAZING cookies.
Here are some of the “Go Grier Go!” team’s tips for a successful bake sale:
- Shout it from the rooftops! Tell people in advance about your bake sale – when, where, why. Send out an email letting everyone know and get them to forward it on!
- Make life easier and use the files on the Cookies website to make signs, posters, stickers and labels for your bake sale. Go to Staples or Kinkos to make them larger. Great signs attract more customers.
- Ask your local bake shops to donate their leftovers to the sale. Two local shops were willing to help.
- Label ALL cookies. People will ask what everything is, so save your voice and make labels.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE when you bake – stick with the standbys. Chocolate chip cookies were by far the favorite.
- NO nuts! Many people have severe peanut allergies. Keep your bake sale peanut, pecan and walnut free to avoid losing customers.
- Decorate the goodies – bright colors on cookies and cupcakes attract kids.
- Cake slices are popular. If whole cakes are not selling, slice them into individual servings.
- RECRUIT KIDS! They have energy and can sell anything. They love to help so let them be your cheerleaders!
Amy’s bake sale is one of hundreds of bake sales we plan to feature on this blog. Grier is one of hundreds and thousands of kids we are in this fight for. YOU are one of hundreds who will make a difference in the fight against pediatric cancer. We hope you come back. . .