On Saturday, Dream Big in Cranston opened their doors to the public for two hours of open play time while Heather Wirtz, editor and publisher of the Macaroni Kid Cranston/Kent weekly newsletter …
On Saturday, Dream Big in Cranston opened their doors to the public for two hours of open play time while Heather Wirtz, editor and publisher of the Macaroni Kid Cranston/Kent weekly newsletter (www.kent.macaronikid.com) hosted a bake sale to benefit the non-profit organization Cookies for Kids' Cancer.
Gretchen Holt Witt and her husband Larry founded Cookies for Kids' Cancer after their 2-year-old son Liam was diagnosed with cancer. Liam lost his four-year fight with cancer last January, at the age of 6.
"Gretchen was a guest speaker at the Macaroni Kids [National] Meet-up in Miami this past fall, and everyone was in tears," said Wirtz. "I knew then that I wanted to do a bake sale.”
According to the organization’s website, it was during their son's battle with cancer when Witt and her husband "were shocked to learn that the main reason over 25 percent of kids diagnosed with cancer do not survive is because of a lack of effective therapies. The reason for the lack of therapies was very simple: lack of funding."
They decided to ensure their son's legacy by doing something about it.
"Unfortunately, money is the number one reason why pediatric cancer survival rates lag so far behind. There is a direct correlation between increasing research dollars and decreasing mortality rates. Fighting cancer is something no child should have to endure and no child should have to lose their fight because of a lack of support. It's incomprehensible and it's unacceptable,'" Witt said in a statement.
The turnout at Saturday's event was bigger than expected, with a full house at Dream Big for the two hours of open play.
"We had so many more people than expected and so many people baked, even people we didn't know were baking," said Wirtz, who had spent the better part of last week handing out the Cookies for Kids' Cancer bags and tags and collecting baked goods for the sale from more than 20 local families who had volunteered to bake.
Wirtz had an unexpected surprise when Witt's cousin, Bonnie Soper of Barrington, heard about the bake sale and asked if she could be a volunteer for the day.
"I called to see if I could help," Soper said.
Wirtz, of course, was thrilled and said yes. Soper spent the afternoon selling cookies in honor of her cousin's son.
"Everyone is a volunteer," Soper said. "The funds raised help support trials of new pediatric cancer treatments and GLAD is a matching sponsor."
Locally, the event was supported by many sponsors, as well as local businesses who gave products to be raffled off at the end of the day.
"Raffle items were provided by Chocolate Dreams, Learn All About It, Kite Tails Play Center, Thirty-One Gifts, KBG Photography, J. Guillet, Photography, Dream Big Gymnastics and RI Doodlebug Designs," said Wirtz.
This was the first bake sale in Rhode Island, but Soper hopes that there will be many more. Wirtz said she is more than willing to do it again, having raised more than $800 for the cause in two short hours.
"I hope to do this at least twice a year," said Wirtz.
For more information about how to host a bake sale or how to support the cause, visit cookiesforkidscancer.org.