Cupcakes & Coping

How sweet treats help children and families deal with cancer.

In 2004, a group of 12 local bakeries in New York City participated for four days in CancerCare's first Cupcakes for a Cause Week. The bakeries baked and sold specially decorated cupcakes to raise $1,600 for the CancerCare for Kids program. Since then, Cupcakes for a Cause has evolved into an annual fundraiser involving hundreds of bakeries nationwide in addition to bake sales and corporate sponsors. Created and run by the national nonprofit CancerCare, the campaign has raised more than $325,000 for CancerCare for Kids.

Founded in New York City in 1944, CancerCare is the oldest and largest organization providing free professional counseling, educational programs, financial assistance and practical help to people with cancer, their loved ones and healthcare professionals across the county.

The CancerCare for Kids program serves children and adolescents, generally between the ages of 4-8, who are coping with cancer— either their own or that of a close family member. Children have specific needs and questions in terms of understanding the illness and the challenges cancer presents. CancerCare for Kids strives to address children's concerns.

CancerCare's professionally trained oncology social workers team up with families to help them navigate the often complex issues that arise when faced with cancer. Services that Cupcakes for a Cause provide include:

  • age-related counseling to help children and families cope with all aspects of cancer, from diagnosis to bereavement.
  • therapeutic recreational events.
  • educational materials focused on the physical, emotional and practical aspects of coping with cancer and bereavement.
  • financial assistance for cancer-related expenses including childcare and transportation.

Can a cupcake really help someone cope with cancer? It sounds too simple, but that's the beauty of Cupcakes for a Cause. It's an easy and lighthearted way for people to support an invaluable program. CancerCare for Kids helps children who might otherwise have no outlet outside the home deal with a cancer diagnosis in their family. Perhaps now more than ever, people want a sweet treat and a way to feel good about it by giving back to a worthy cause.

To generate awareness and support for the campaign, CancerCare's corporate relations team works year-round to secure bakery participation, media coverage and corporate sponsorship. As a result, Cupcakes for a Cause has grown significantly in size and scope every year, bringing CancerCare's message of help and hope for people with cancer into the hearts and minds of an increasing number of supporters. In 2009, thanks to a record-breaking 365 participating bakery locations nationwide and the support of two national corporate sponsors, 1-800-Flowers.com and Reynolds Baking Cups, the campaign raised more than $85,000 and counting for CancerCare for Kids.

Parents can get involved with Cupcakes for a Cause by visiting a participating bakery during Cupcakes Week (September 20 – 26, 2010), hosting a bake sale or sending an e-Cupcake to family and friends. For the latest details, visit www.cupcakesforacause.org or e-mail cwyman@cancercare.org.