96,000 Cookies

Featured Article, Heroes
on August 26, 2011
Cookies for Kids' Cancer
Gretchen Holt-Witt with her late son, Liam.

“It was never my goal in life to be known as the mom daring enough (or is it crazy enough?) to bake and sell 96,000 cookies for a good cause when, in truth, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.”—Gretchen Holt-Witt

A working mother of two, Gretchen Holt-Witt changed her goals in an instant, when her son, Liam, was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. What she discovered was that not nearly enough treatment options are available for kids battling cancer, and that research dedicated to new treatments is sorely lacking in funding.

So Gretchen went to work, turning her son’s favorite cookies into a force for raising funds for cancer research. With dozens of other families whose children were also battling neuroblastoma, Gretchen began to take orders for cookies from friends, coworkers and neighbors. They sold 96,000 cookies in three weeks. The event raised more than $400,000 for pediatric cancer research, but it was soon clear that something bigger than a bake sale had begun. Even weeks after the event was over, requests for cookies kept coming in.

What started as a desperate act to raise money and awareness for her child’s own cancer blossomed into something much bigger than any had planned. The event caught the eye and the hearts of the media and people all over the country.

Gretchen’s story and that of her cause, along with their recipes, are captured in the new book Cookies for Kids Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook (Wiley, 2011).