Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Blog

How We Get Through This

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 12:20 am April 8, 2020

I’m not going to lie. The last three weeks have been tough and have felt like an eternity. On March 11th, we were scheduled to have our 7th annual Chefs for Kids’ Cancer event. After months of planning and coordination, we were hours away from welcoming 600 guests, 70 chefs, a team of sommeliers and mixologists and poised to have a record-breaking night of raising money for pediatric cancer research. The event is now postponed indefinitely and every restaurant that was supporting us is now closed and their employees out of work.

That one single night brings in a significant amount of the money we raise all year. In addition, every grassroots event scheduled for the foreseeable future has understandably been postponed. These events held by people from coast to coast are the heart and soul of who we are, what we are about and an integral part of our organization. We also are concerned for our loyal corporate supporters, from those that are cookie purchasers to long-time partners, as they navigate the impact of the pandemic. And then, while the adjustment of this new normal sets in, we lost three dear friends in a week who left this world entirely too soon.

I mentioned before that this is familiar territory for any parent of a child who has cancer. It feels like you’re trying to stand on quicksand, when everything around you is changing and nothing about the future is clear. Parents who have a child battling cancer know what it’s like to live with uncertainty and fear. Shepherding a child through cancer is one of the hardest things any parent will do. Imagine how hard that journey is in this new world.

So how do we get through this? We live through it day by day, sometimes hour by hour. And, we do it the way we have always done it since 2007, by coming together as a community. How can you do that when we are still practicing social distancing? You can do it by buying cookies from our cookie shop to send to a friend, family member or co-worker to let them know you’re thinking about them. For every single one of those cookie purchases, 100% of the profits go toward the vitally important work of funding research for new, improved and less toxic treatments for children battling cancer. And we just introduced a new item — a six-pack — that is like sending a virtual hug. Or, since you’re already baking (we know you are, we’ve seen the pictures!), you can have a virtual bake sale to continue the community spirit. Visit our new site for more details on how to get involved.

On Saturday night, I made a run to the single grocery store in my small town just before it closed. There was only one other customer in the store, which felt incredibly odd but also made social distancing easy. We wound up in the checkout line at the same time, while making sure to maintain a safe distance. We both commented at the new addition of a plexiglass shield for protection and the other customer, a woman, shared that she had just moved to the area from San Diego. And then, almost as if in passing, mentioned that she has a child with cancer.

I asked what kind and she said leukemia. And as I asked a few more questions, she realized I knew a little bit more than the average person. I told her I raise money for pediatric cancer research at which point she told me that she moved to the area for her daughter to participate in a trial at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I told her that CHOP is one of our partner centers and we have funded several leukemia projects — I could see that she was moved. I told her if she ever needed anything, to reach out to me and said she could connect with me via Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. As soon as I said the name of the organization, her face changed. She was visibly overwhelmed and told me that she couldn’t believe we were meeting, that her six-year-old daughter has a copy of our cookbook. Here we were, in a world of social distancing, brought together by our children. But I have to say, somehow it made sense. There is a 6-year-old little girl who needs us. Let’s be there for her.

Be well. Be safe. And wash your hands … a lot. We will get through this.

Dr. La Quaglia’s Carrot-Almond Drops

Filed under: childhood cancer research — Tags: — The Good Cookies @ 6:41 pm March 27, 2020
From All the Good Cookies cookbook, pg. 31

For the cookies

  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • One 4-ounce jar baby food pureed carrots
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

For the frosting

  • 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

To make the cookies: Place the butter and brown sugar in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about three minutes. Add the eggs, carrot puree, and vanilla, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Place the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl, mix well, and with the mixer on low, add to the butter mixture. Beat just to combine. Stir on oats, carrots, and almonds and mix to combine.

Using a level small (two-teaspoon size) cookie scoop, drop the batter about two inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Transfer to the oven and bake until the edges of the cookies are slightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets on the oven racks halfway through the baking time. Cool on the cookie sheets for three minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough on cool cookie sheets.

To make the frosting: Place the butter and cream cheese in a large mixer and beat until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined. Top each cookie with a teaspoon of frosting.

Store in the refrigerator for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 9:36 pm March 18, 2020
Recipe from Best Bakesale cookbook, pg. 3

Yield: Three to four dozen cookies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla, one at a time, beating well between additions.

Place the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; mix well and add to the butter mixture. Beat until everything is well incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the chocolate chips and beat again.

Form the dough into heaping-teaspoon-size balls and place them about two inches apart on the prepared cookie sheet. Using your palm, gently press down.

Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies begin to brown at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet. Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining dough.

Blimey Limey Cookies

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 10:02 pm March 16, 2020
Recipe from All the Good Cookies cookbook, pg. 115

Yield: about 3 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 2 sticks (one-half pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • Green decorating sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place the butter and sugar in a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth and creamy, about three minutes. Add the lime juice, lime zest, and vanilla, beating to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again. With the mixer on low, add flour and beat, scraping again, until combined. Stir in almonds and mix until well combined.

Divide the dough into three disks. Place the disks between two well-floured sheets of waxed paper and roll out to a scant 1/4-inch thickness (sprinkle with additional flour if dough is sticky). Using a 2 1/2-inch shamrock cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place on the prepared cookie sheets, about two inches apart. Sprinkle tops of shamrocks with decorating sugar.

Transfer to the oven and bake until the cookies just begin to brown on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets on the oven racks halfway through the baking time. Cool on the cookie sheets for three minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough on cool cookie sheets.

Store in an airtight container for up to three days or freeze for up to three months.

Meet Taste Buds Kitchen

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 10:59 pm September 17, 2019

We caught up with Jessi Brelsford – the Founder and Chief Bud of Taste Buds Kitchen – a company specializing in creative and unique cooking events for kids and families and focused on connecting, learning and growing in the culinary playground of the kitchen. Their motto is “Learn, laugh, cook!” and that’s an attitude we can totally get behind!

Taste Buds Kitchen has been hosting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fundraisers since 2011 and their kid-driven bake sales have raised over $60,000 to fund new, less toxic cancer treatments for children. These bake sales are a stand out example of how kids can get directly involved in giving back and making an impact on the world around them. And the impact shows! So we wanted to learn more about how these little buds get it done…

How did you find out about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer?

I first learned about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer when I was just starting Taste Buds Kitchen. I volunteered to help seal cookie bags when the cookies were being made at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and met a lot of great people that day. I was excited to learn more.

What inspired you to host an event?

I immediately saw a way for our little budding chefs to give back by creating yummy treats and hosting bake sales to support this great effort. What could be better than kids helping kids!

I was so excited I even raised money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer by running a half marathon in Central Park years ago!

Tell us how you do it all! How do you and the kids prepare for your bake sales?

The Cookies for Kids’ Cancer Bake Sale Starter Kit is very helpful! Then we tell the kids all about it and let our parents and neighbors know about the bake sale so that they can hopefully attend! Our neighboring tenants love our bake sales! They look forward to it every Thursday in the summer.

What’s your favorite part of hosting a fundraiser?

Everyone loves it! Our summer campers, our crew, and our parents. It’s such a worthwhile effort. In addition to helping children, it also teaches our campers so much.

What has been your biggest takeaway from it all?

I love giving back and helping others so it’s nice that this partnership has been a part of our business since the very early days. We were even included in your Best Bake Sale Cookbook!

It also feels so good to be able to help in a small way. The kids love it and their parents are really proud of them.

Cancer is such an awful disease and now that I’m a mother, I’m even more committed to helping this great organization.

Any fun anecdotes or stories to share that happened during a bake sale?

We ask for donations at our bake sale and one person gave us a $20 and asked for change and one of our campers gave them back $1. It was pretty funny, we all laughed.

Do you have plans to host any more fundraising events for Cookies?

Yes! Certainly. Every summer.

Ok, so we have to ask…what’s your favorite cookie?

Chocolate chip — you can’t beat it!

Thank you so much, Jessi! We love the enthusiasm and joy in these kids’ faces!

To learn more about how you or your small business can host your own bake sale or fundraiser, please reach out to us at events@beagoodcookie.org. We’d love to hear from you!

Meet Sarah Lee

We caught up with Sarah Lee who has been hosting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sales with her daughters for the last eight years and raised over $10,000.

We call Sarah Lee and her daughters our All-Stars – the very best of our #GoodCookies who are at the core of our mission to raise critical funds for pediatric cancer research.

We wanted to learn a little more about Sarah Lee, Ella and Rae and what motivates them to host their bake sales every year. Here Sarah Lee shares her wisdom and bake sale magic for others looking for a fun way to fundraise and involve kids in that very special project of giving back.

What inspired you to host a bake sale for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer? 

I was reading Parents magazine when my daughter Ella was two-years-old. I read the article by Gretchen Witt whose son Liam was battling pediatric cancer. I remember looking at little Ella sitting there singing along to Dora the Explorer and thinking that I couldn’t imagine the heartache a parent would feel when told by doctors that their child had cancer and may not survive. The thought of Ella not sitting there singing made me feel like we had to start helping. We started planning our first ever bake sale right then and there.  

Walk us through the steps you take when organizing a bake sale so that others reading this might be inspired to host a bake sale, too!  

First, my daughters and I pick our date for our bake sale which is always in September because it’s pediatric cancer awareness month and OXO has a donation matching program. 

We then start our advertising on social media. We continue to periodically put new things on the feed to keep folks interested and so that they don’t forget the date. 

We have stuck to the same menu for years, and it seems to work! We bake at least 13 dozen cookies (last year we had 16 dozen treats!) consisting of our classic heart sugar cookie with frosting, chocolate chip, iced oatmeal, oatmeal raisin, and snickerdoodle. 

A week prior we start laying out all of the bags and placing the Cookies logo stickers on them and grouping them by size. We start organizing our decorations (balloons that will need to be blown up, banners, posters, etc.) in order to see if new posters need to be made (we have been rained on in the past, and our advertising posters show it), or if any extra supplies need to be purchased. 

We always have coffee and lemonade, so we usually purchase the cups and supplies for that at this time. 

Three days before the event, we start baking the sugar cookies, because we make the dough from scratch, allowing them to cool and dry, frosting them, and letting them set so that they can be placed in the clear bags (these are our biggest fan favorite!). 

Then two days before the event we start baking all of the other cookies and placing them in bags. 

The (very early) morning of the event, we get the balloons inflated, make the coffee and lemonade, set up the tents and tables and decorate, get on our Cookies gear (shirts, aprons, and hats we had made), because we want to look official!

We post one last blast announcement on social media and wait for the guests! Once the event is over, we clean up and then add up all of our donations and let our community know how we did!

How did you find the process of working with the Cookies fundraising team to get you the support you needed to start? 

When we reached out to Cookies fundraising team for our first bake sale, they were so excited to help us get started. The team is so helpful and goes out of their way to make it easier for us to have a successful bake sale. They offer support and guidance through email and they even talk to us one-on-one to answer any questions we may have. They are very encouraging and reached out to us several times during our planning phase to see if we needed anything.

What surprised you the most about hosting a bake sale?  

We decided to have a bake sale shortly after we had moved to our home in the Chicago suburbs and we didn’t know a lot of people yet. Even though I was on the neighborhood Facebook page, there weren’t that many folks that knew us yet, so I was worried that even if I posted our event, there might not be a big turnout. There were so many nice people that I did meet that had lived there for many years that were gracious enough to get our event out there for us in their circle of friends and the word got out!  We sold out so quickly and had more donations than we ever could have expected, and people still came to donate even after all the cookies were gone!

What was your biggest takeaway or learning moment?  

There are so many families that are touched by pediatric cancer in one way or another…we met a nurse in our neighborhood that is an oncology nurse who actually provides treatment to pediatric cancer patients. We also met neighbors who have lost loved ones or who are currently battling cancer. This disease is affecting families everywhere, and it needs to stop.

How do you feel you’ve changed from the experience of hosting a fundraiser to raise funds for critical pediatric cancer research?  

My family has definitely become more thankful that we have one another. We definitely feel a sense of accomplishment when we mail in our donations to Cookies, and we get tears of joy when we hear of children that are surviving thanks to a treatment that was funded by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

My daughter Ella writes for a local publication called Front Porch Living and has even had two articles published regarding Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in an effort to raise awareness for the organization and pediatric cancer. Giving back has become a big part of all of our lives.

We have to ask…what’s your favorite cookie to bake?

Our heart sugar cookies, because there’s so much time spent together making them from start to finish and at the end, they’re yummy and beautiful!

Thank you so much, Sarah Lee, Ella and Rae! You inspire us so much.

Are you looking to host your own bake sale or fundraiser? Click here to sign up!

A letter to my son Liam on his 15th birthday…

Filed under: Birthdays,Good Cookies,Tough Cookies — The Good Cookies @ 12:00 pm May 10, 2019

 

Happy Birthday to my one and only Liam –

Today, you should be turning 15 years old. On the cusp of getting your first summer job and of learning to drive, I should be chasing you down in a whole different way than I once did as you slalomed down the sidewalk weaving in and out of people on your beloved orange scooter. You should have spring fever, counting the days to summer and sleeping in. You should be breaking hearts with your charm, irresistibly cute smile, and big dreams for what most certainly would be the brightest future.

Just a few weeks ago, all of your preschool friends made their final decisions about which high school (HIGH SCHOOL) they plan to attend. They were considering if they wanted to focus on art, sciences or sports magnets based on where their interests have taken them. As I heard the flutter of nervousness from their parents and watched reality set in for this new, exciting chapter for your friends, it took my breath away once again that you aren’t here with us, ready to jump into another life adventure.

Even after 8 years, I cannot believe you aren’t here. You are forever 6, nearly 7, and our guitar-playing, cake baking, science loving, scooter-riding boy. I wonder often if by now you would be into race cars or product design, like your dad. Or would you love words and writing like me? I imagine you would love a little of everything we all do. I know beyond a doubt you would take the greatest joy in cheering on your sister as she racks up ribbon upon ribbon for her horseback riding.

On your birthday, what we miss the most is simply YOU. And on this day, we will feel a little sadder than usual. But the promise we made to you – that we would do all we could to make it better for others – is the one we keep all the days of the year. We work to inspire people to Be a Good Cookie – to do something fun to help kids. And we work to make sure the dollars are going to the very best research because you would hold us to that standard of excellence.  And our wish – a birthday wish in your honor – is for every child diagnosed with cancer to reach their 15th birthday…and 16th, 17th, 18th…until they live all their days, living all their dreams.

Each day with you was a gift and forever would have never been enough. So now we are working to give everyone else the gift of time they so desperately deserve.

I love you, Liam. And not a second goes by that Daddy, Ella and I don’t miss you. We love you to the sun, and moon, and all the stars in the universe…and back again.

Love & Kisses,

Mommy 

 

To make a donation in honor of Liam, please donate here.

To send Love Like Liam Lemon Sugar Cookies, order here.

 

 

 

 

Liam’s Birthday

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 12:04 pm May 13, 2018

Once again, Liam’s birthday and Mother’s Day fall on the same day.

It always leaves me in a state of confusion when it happens and I never quite know how or what to feel. Liam is the child who made me a mommy. He inducted me into the glory of motherhood. From the instant I laid eyes on him, I knew that being a mother would be the most important thing I would do in my lifetime. Period. Full stop. And after he was diagnosed and our world turned upside down, the instinct to protect him kicked into hyper overdrive.

It was four years of living with sheer adrenaline and all senses on full alert. At some point I realized that Liam and I had spent so much time together that we had moved past the need to use words. All we had to do was look at each other to know what the other was thinking or feeling.

But being that close meant I had to be very careful to not let him see the vice grip of fear squeezing my heart. It was a constant struggle to remain calm in the midst of sheer terror. Protecting him through that odyssey also meant protecting his innocence so that he could have the space to be a child.

I did everything I could possibly think of to try to protect that innocence, as ridiculous as that sounds. I have to think it’s the reason he had the audacity as a stage 4 Cancer Patient to slalom on a bright orange scooter through the hospital corridors.

Today, as Ella charts new territory I should have gone through with Liam first, I can’t help but still feel incredibly blessed to have such an amazing child who is the only thing that can soothe my broken heart. Watching her grow up is something I never take for granted. And having her love me is such a powerful medicine. Life is a gift. 

– Gretchen Witt

What Valentine’s Day Means To Us – A Legacy of Love

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 2:43 am February 14, 2018

January 24th marked seven years since Liam Witt’s battle with cancer came to an end. On Valentine’s Day 2011, more than 1,000 people gathered at a cathedral in New York City to celebrate the life of Liam Witt, the inspiration behind the Good Cookie movement. While cancer cut his life short, Liam’s LOVE for people, for living, and for life has become his true, enduring legacy.

Liam Witt

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,” they knew they 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 continued to inspire 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 and Larry thought of ways to raise funds for a promising new treatment. They realized they 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 and Larry baked and sold 96,000 cookies – in person, online, any way possible – 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?”

Photo Jan 24, 2 35 06 PM

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 Witt gets a hero s farewell YouTube

A Legacy of Love…

Liam’s love continues to inspire us and people everywhere. Since 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has granted nearly $15 million, funding 100 research projects, including 37 that are now treatments available for children battling cancer TODAY. 

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. To learn more about how you can Be a Good Cookie and help fund new, improved, and less toxic treatments for childhood cancer, visit www.cookiesforkidscancer.org

Hillary Waldeisen, Good Cookie since 2013 

Filed under: childhood cancer research — The Good Cookies @ 10:24 pm February 7, 2018
“I did my first fundraising event for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in 2013. I got involved with Cookies because I appreciated the fact that not only do they support all pediatric cancer diagnoses, they utilize every dollar to the fullest. These were both very important things for me as I learned how underfunded research was once Lucy was diagnosed. I wanted to do something to change that and decided partnering with Cookies was a good match. When Lucy was first diagnosed in 2009, our friends did multiple fundraisers for our family, one of which was a Dodgeball Tournament. I figured it was a fun event, something that was unique for our community, and something many could participate in. It was a big success the first time and so I hoped it would be when I started doing it for Cookies. And I was right.
 
Our community loves the event and supporting our kids with cancer. The support means more to me than I can express in words. Not only the support our family received when Lucy was diagnosed, but the support for our cause. People want to be part of something that is meaningful, and I feel like this has been a venue for people for years now. A piece of advice for other Cookies supporters: utilize the connections and staff at Cookies, as that is what they want! I didn’t utilize for quite a few years and it caused a lot of headache and extra work on my part. I appreciate the support I have received and that has been offered to me.” – Hillary Waldeisen, Good Cookie since 2013 
To learn more about our mission and all of the ways you can ‘Be a Good Cookie’, visit cookiesforkidscancer.org!
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