Parents Perspective

Eat a Cookie, Fight Cancer (for Real)

How Cookies for Kids' Cancer is fighting pediatric cancer one cookie at a time through its Family Fun Day.

Candy-Cane Cutouts Jonny Valiant
There are few foods more synonymous with the holiday season than the cookie, and as the food editor at Parents each year I have the fun job of coming up with a clever twist on the perennial favorite. (This year: One Dough, Six Christmas Cookies!)

But, especially during the holidays, cookies are often more than just cookies. They are the food that brings parents and kids into the kitchen together. They are the bond between generations as we bake recipes passed down by our own moms. They are traditions spun out of flour, sugar, butter, and salt, unique to our own families and histories.

Cookies are powerful, in these ways and more: They can also help save lives. Truly.

When Gretchen and Larry Witt's two year-old son Liam was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, they were shocked to discover that although pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in this country, it receives very little federal funding for research.

Desperate to do something productive, Gretchen and Larry gathered friends to bake 96,000 cookies (yes, you read that right) for an epic fundraising bake sale. Their massive effort raised $420,000 to donate towards pediatric cancer research.

Cookies for Kids' Cancer
Heartbreakingly, Liam died just three years later, but the foundation Cookies for Kids' Cancer is his legacy. Since that first bake sale, the foundation has inspired kids and adults in every state and in 16 countries to organize their own bake sales with the money earned going to Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

Over the years the foundation has raised more than $9 million for pediatric cancer research. The money has made a real difference, funding more than six dozen research projects. Twenty-six of those projects have evolved into viable treatment options. Liam's story and Gretchen and Larry's tireless outreach have inspired thousands of people and businesses across the country to give their time and money to this most worthy of causes. And the foundation is always finding new ways for more people to be involved.

This year, in time for the holidays, Cookies for Kids' Cancer is throwing a cookie extravaganza, its first ever Be a Good Cookie Family Fun Day on December 5th in NYC. The event is hosted by chef Christina Tosi who you may know as a judge on MasterChef and MasterChef Junior and the creator of the absolutely addictive sweets at Milk Bar (crack pie and corn cookies, I'm looking at you). Proceeds from Family Fun Day will go towards Cookies for Kids' Cancer.

If you live in the NYC area I highly recommend this event. Aside from funding an excellent cause, Family Fun Day is going to be, in a word, delicious. Tosi has recruited 15 bakers to provide treats including Magnolia Bakery and Karen Tack, the sugar whiz who creates many of the irresistible sweets you see in Parents (including our holiday cookies this year!). Kids can decorate cookies and cupcakes and rock out to music from 12 year-old DJ Fulano.

The event isn't cheap. But, as a parent I can hardly think of a better cause. If your holiday plans include giving to charity, then a ticket to the event, a donation to the foundation, or, even better, a bake sale you organize in your own community is a true gift, of love, caring, and hope for children and their families everywhere.

Get more information about the event. Hope to see you there!

Jenna Helwig is the food editor at Parents and the author of Real Baby Food and Smoothie-licious. She will be baking up a storm this holiday season with her daughter and posting the results on Instagram and Twitter.