New Yorkers had a special treat waiting for them during their lunch and snack breaks on the afternoon of November 10th. Shimmying around the city was the popular Cupcake Truck transformed into a Cookie Truck sponsored by the Glad Brand and Cookies for Kids’ ‘Cancer. Oscar nominated actress Joan Cusack was on board handing out cookies—chocolate chip, snicker doodle, and chocolate chip black cherry. After munching on the sweet treats, New Yorkers were able to give a donation with the money going to fund pediatric cancer research.
Who would have thought cookies would be a source of providing funding for cancer? One mom did. When Gretchen Holt Witt started her day one February morning over two years ago she never thought it would end with a cancer diagnosis for her youngest family member. Concerned that her two year-old son, Liam, was not eating and sleeping too much, she took him to see his pediatrician. When the sun went down that day her whole world had changed. Liam had Stage IV cancer. While still absorbing the devastating diagnosis, Witt and her husband Larry learned how little money—from the government and pharmaceutical companies—was earmarked for pediatric cancer treatments.
Determined to fight for their son’s life, the Witts held a bake sale that netted more than $400,000. What started out as a family effort to raise money for Liam’s diagnosis has grown into an organization that benefits cancer research by selling baked goods and, along the way, educates the public on the critical need for new medicines to treat children stricken with cancer.
The Witts’ hard work and determination has paid off. In the past two years, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has raised more than $700,000 through cookie orders and bake sales. For the months of November and December, the group has teamed up with the Glad Brand to increase the donation and education levels. Glad will be matching the funds collected, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.
On Tuesday, November 10, the Cookie Truck made stops all around the city—Grand Central, Bryant Park, Rockefeller Center and Times Square—spreading the word and raising money for pediatric cancer. Volunteers were scattered all over the streets handing out bags containing a sticker with the Cookie for Kids’ Cancer website and a sweet treat inside. In exchange for the knowledge and pick me up, people were asked to make a donation, a small price to pay for the information and snack.
Joan Cusack rode in the Cookie Truck, handing out cookies, collecting donations, and answering questions. While fans know Joan from her roles in Working Girl, Nine Months, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Working 9 to 5, as well as her voice in Toy Story 3, and appearances in many TV shows, including Saturday Night Live, she is also a dedicated mother to two sons, ages 9 and 12, and lost her father to pancreatic cancer. Cusack embraced the opportunity to team up with another mom and raise awareness for pediatric cancer, the second leading cause of death among children, following accidents. “Look how unknown breast cancer was and now some doctors wear pink gloves,” she said.
While New Yorkers tend to be jaded about encountering celebrities, those who happened upon Joan in the Cookie Truck ventured closer and were soon under her spell. With a huge smile, she handed out cookies, collected donations, answered questions, and chatted with everyone who stopped by. She’s a major star (related to another huge star, John Cusack), yet on that November afternoon, she was a mother supporting an important cause. And even jaded New Yorkers understand that dedication.
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has attracted many sponsors including Jacqueline’s Gourmet Cookies, Cookie Magazine, Smart Design, Uline, Border 7 Studios, Philosophy and the Glad Brand. Want to give a gift to someone special that will also help children with cancer? When you buy at Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, 100 percent of your sale will go for pediatric cancer research. Visit www.cookiesforkidscancer.org.
Jennifer Smolen- Fetta lives and works in the city and is currently pursuing her dream to be a writer. Her food blog includes diet friendly tips, recipes and fun food facts. Please visit her at www.jensfoodienews.blogspot.com.