In Living Commentary

Cookies For Kids' Cancer has put out the call to foodies and bakers across the country to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Milwaukee gets baking to benefit Cookies For Kids' Cancer

As a parent with a healthy 2-year-old son, I can only imagine the shock and weight the words "your child has cancer" bring along with them. Unfortunately, there are tens of thousands of new sets of parents that have to hear those very words each year.

Childhood cancer is a rare occurrence, with less than one percent of new cancer diagnoses in America belonging to kids between the ages of birth to 14, according to the American Cancer Society's 2010 numbers. An estimated 10,700 new cancer diagnoses were expected last year, with an estimated 1,340 children dying from cancer.

That's 1,340 children of all different races, creeds and religious backgrounds that won't enjoy the life that they deserve to live. Gretchen and Larry Witt, creators of Cookies For Kids' Cancer, want to change that.

In 2008, the Witts started Cookies For Kids' Cancer after holding a successful bake sale in 2007 to raise money for their rising medical costs after their 2-year-old son Liam was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Sadly, Liam lost his battle with cancer on January 24 of this year at the age of 6 ½.

To help celebrate what would have been Liam's seventh birthday, Cookies For Kids' Cancer has put out the call to foodies and bakers all across the country to host 700 bake sales in the month of May (the month of Liam's birthday) to raise an astounding amount of money for pediatric cancer research. The local group MKEfoodies has responded to this call and will host a large bake sale and silent auction on May 21 at Best Place at the old Pabst Brewery from 1 to 4 p.m.

I talked with one of the event organizers, Lori Fredrich, about MKEfoodies' motivation to host a Cookies For Kids' Cancer event and what attendees can expect from the afternoon. What triggered you to get involved in this event?

Lori Fredrich: A blogger friend of ours, Amy from Very Culinary, tipped us off to the Cookies for Kids' May Bake Sale initiative by asking us to be involved in a video promotion for her blog. When we saw the finished product, we knew we had to get involved with the cause here in Milwaukee. People here in the city are so generous and always willing to get involved in a great cause, so we knew we'd get a great response.

OMC: Will any of the money raised go to local children?

LF: The money raised is being directed at research that will benefit both local children and children around the nation. Cancer research is essential to achieving the goal of cure with quality for all children with cancer. Cancer research is responsible for the achievements to date, with pediatric oncologists showing the world how to perform meaningful clinical research that influences clinical care. However, the next generation of research that will lead to meaningful differences is quite different, and will rely on a detailed understanding of cancer biology with a newly facile way to translate discoveries to the clinic.

All support and donations from our event in Milwaukee will help scientists and top pediatric oncologists at leading pediatric cancer centers, including St. Jude Research Hospital, and accelerate and deepen their investigation into new and less toxic therapies in an all-out effort to save the lives of innocent children.

OMC: What are you doing on the day of the event? Are there going to be any friendly bake-offs or challenges?

LF: Participants will be invited to purchase bake sale items and make bids on a variety of silent auction baskets. We will have milk and cookies available for purchase for the kids, and Best Place will offer a full bar for patrons who want to stick around to keep tabs on their favorite silent auction items. Yelp! Milwaukee will be pulling together Milwaukee trivia challenges all afternoon long and giving away great prizes.

We will also invite members of the community who have been directly affected by pediatric cancer to stand up and share their experiences with attendees.

OMC: Who do you have signed up to participate in the event? Any local celebs, known foodies, etc.?

LF: We have over 45 bakers from the Milwaukee area participating in the event, including area food bloggers, professional chefs and home bakers. Local chefs and restaurants participating in the event include Lisa Kirkpatrick from Roots, Jan Kelly from Meritage, Allie Howard from Graffito, Robert Ash from the Pfister, Ryan Oschmann from the Eatery on Farwell, David Zakroczymski from the Intercontinental and Kurt Fogle from the SURG restaurant group. Other participating restaurants and bakeries include Blue's Egg, Beans & Barley, Molly's Gluten Free Bakery and Edible Impressions.

OMC: Why did you pick the old Pabst Brewery as the venue?

LF: We wanted a location for this event that really represented the spirit of Milwaukee. Since Best Place is such an amazing historical landmark for the city, as well as a positively gorgeous spot for holding an event like this, we figured it was worth a shot. We also knew that Jim Haertel, owner of Best Place, has been a staunch supporter of cancer-related fund-raising, so we asked if he'd be willing to provide the venue for our event. Plus - beer and cookies? How can you go wrong with that?


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