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On Valentine’s Day 2011, hundreds gathered in New York City to celebrate the life of Liam Witt, the little boy who inspired his parents to start Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. While cancer cut his life short, Liam’s LOVE for people, for living, and for life has become his true, enduring legacy.
Love Inspired Action…
Just 2 ½-years-old when diagnosed, Liam’s parents, Larry and Gretchen Witt, quickly learned of the lack of treatment options for pediatric cancers. When his oncologist shared, “It’s not science that’s holding us back, it’s funding,” Gretchen knew she had to take action. But first, Liam had to be ushered through months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Throughout the process, his bravery and compassion inspired his parents. When he was declared to have no evidence of disease, they began to think of how to help other children.
The 2007 holiday season was approaching as Gretchen thought of ways to raise funds for a promising new treatment. She realized she needed something so sweet and comforting that it would conquer the fear associated with pediatric cancer. The answer? Cookies. With the help of 250 volunteers, Gretchen baked and sold 96,000 cookies – in person, online, any way she could – to raise funds. That original “bake sale” raised more than $420,000. Before long, people began reaching out asking, “What can I do to help?”
A Transcending Love…
Reaching far beyond his family, Liam’s love knew no boundaries. Though he battled cancer off and on for nearly four years, he had special relationships with everyone he encountered, from doctors, nurses and teachers, to the firefighters of Engine 1/Ladder 24, the station he passed on his way home from school or treatments at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
He called the firefighters his “guys,” and made sure they all knew he loved them. And they weren’t afraid to show their love in return. In their station, they gave Liam his own locker, suit and helmet. On January 24, 2011, Liam’s battle came to an end. Suddenly, the numbers of his beloved Engine 1/Ladder 24 took on a special meaning.
For his Valentine’s Day memorial service, an entire street in New York City was closed off as Liam’s “guys” honored him with a hero’s farewell. The message that day was to Love Like Liam. Today, his locker at the firehouse still serves as a reminder of that message.
Liam’s love continues to inspire us and people everywhere. Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted more than $5 million to pediatric cancer research, funding four dozen projects and helping seven promising new treatments advance to clinical trial.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer isn’t just about Liam. It’s not about one type of cancer. It’s about every child, everywhere. Every child deserves a fighting chance. As long as there are treatments sitting on shelves waiting for funding, we’ll be fighting to move them forward. This year, we hope you’ll be inspired to join us in sharing the love.
Three simple way to help this Valentine’s Day:
- Order cookies. Delicious and all-natural, 100% of the profits goes to pediatric cancer research.
- Make a donation. You can select the type of cancer your gift supports, and feel good knowing your contribution will be used to find less toxic, more effective treatments for pediatric cancer research.
- Host an event. Thousands of bake sales and other grassroots event have been held in all 50 states and in 16 countries. No effort is too small to make a difference.