It’s been six years since Gretchen Holt-Witt learned her son, Liam, had pediatric cancer, five since she started her nonprofit against the disease — Cookies for Kids' Cancer — and two since we last spoke with her. (Read our earlier articles on the cause here and here.) A lot can happen in a decade.
“It’s a really good time to be talking because we are about to make a decision where our 2013 grants will go,” says Holt-Witt when we reach her by phone at home in New Jersey. The public relations director of OXO lost Liam to the illness in July 2011, but she’s still fighting: Her organization, which encourages people around the world to host bake sales and other events to raise funds for pediatric cancer, has raised more than $7 million for the disease and funded six new treatment options for children with cancer.
Though pediatric cancer is the No. 1 disease killer of children in the U.S., taking more child lives than asthma, AIDS, muscular dystrophy and MS combined, Holt-Witt says she was stunned to hear her son’s doctor’s initial remarks to her.
“One of the first things that Liam’s doctor said to me was that nobody cares about a kid who has cancer,” she says. But she realized something after that early conversation. “It’s not that people don’t care — it’s that they don’t know about the need. As long as you tell them what’s needed and then give people something that they can do,” she says, then people are eager to get involved.
And getting involved in the fight against cancer is as easy as pie — or cookies, for that matter. You can register your next bake sale, school dance, community race or other local event to benefit Cookies for Kids' Cancer at www.cookiesforkidscancer.org. Recipes to get you started in your baking can be found in Holt-Witt’s two Cookies for Kids' Cancer cookbooks, which both donate all proceeds to the cause.
“I want everybody to feel that they have a stake in the game, and that they have a way they can get involved,” Holt-Witt says. “Every dollar counts and every dollar is precious.”
Though Liam is no longer alive, Holt-Witt has no plans of slowing her work with the foundation down.
“I know that I have to meet Liam again,” she says, “and I know that the very first question he’s gonna ask me is, ‘Did you make it better for others?’”
It doesn’t get easier than this
Not a baker? No problem. Cookies for Kids' Cancer sells a number of different flavor cookies — like peanut butter chocolate chip and white chocolate macadamia nut — on its website, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to pediatric cancer research. Consider your holiday gifting problems solved.