How to Change the World


“It is much better to give than to receive”.

I have been blessed in my life to be a living testament to the power of charity. When I was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, my form of the disease, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, was incurable and untreatable. Six weeks after receiving the scariest news ever, my world changed again. A new drug was approved by the FDA for treatment of CML. This was the first of the new generation of cancer drugs in that left your healthy cells alone and inhibited the growth of the cancer cells. This drug put me into remission and gives me a chance at a normal life expectancy.

What does that have to do with charity? The drug was discovered through a grant from the Leukemia &Lymphoma Society. The grant was funded by ordinary people who did marathons, triathlons and century rides for the LLS fundraising group Team in Training. These people pushed themselves to new limits, while raising money for research and treatment. I am alive today because of their efforts.

It should come as no surprise that I joined Team in Training and raise money several times a year to pay my miracle forward. This year I will be doing the Madrid Marathon, the Anchorage Marathon, the Nike Marathon, the Dublin Marathon and, hopefully the Redman Half Ironman Triathlon. By the end of the year, I will have raised over $15,000 for the LLS.

I tell you this not to brag, but to show you that no matter how busy you are, you can always carve out time to give back. Each of you has the power to change someone’s life.

If you hate fundraising, consider the amazing group Icing Smiles. They search out sugar artists to donate cakes for children dealing with life threatening illnesses and they also make cakes for the often overlooked siblings of these patients. I did a number of cakes like this at my bakery, but it was before Icing Smiles came into being. Sometimes that cake is the only source of joy on incredibly hard days. You can make a cake for a child, right?

A friend and I were talking about how donating is one of the most selfless things you can do. She reminded me that it is also one of her favorite selfish indulgences. It makes her feel great about herself. It makes her feel connected to the cause and gives her back as much as she gives away. I know that my Icing Smiles friends would tell you the same thing. There is nothing like the feeling they get from having touched people’s lives. They proudly wear their Icing Smiles buttons as a badge of honor. They deserve all the accolades they receive!

Some of my friends allot a certain percentage of sales to a charity. Some designate a cupcake for breast cancer. Some participate in Cupcakes for Cancer. Some accept donations at their shop for a recognized charity. My friend Peggy Tucker donates a percentage of the sales of her glitters and chef coats to the American Cancer Society.

Many of you have been asked by your children’s school to donate. I personally am a big believer in helping out our local schools. You could do something for the school auction, right?

You cannot do it all, so you need to choose what charities you want to assist. I required all donation requests to be in writing thirty days in advance of the time they needed it. I gave first to the LLS, then to the ACS (my manager was a regional chair), then to schools. I only did other things if I could afford it and believed in the cause.

I hope that regardless of whether you do cakes from home or from a shop, you will choose to give to ONE charity endeavor this year. It will change how you interact with this world. You will become a part of the community by this one act. You will have taken one step towards changing the world.

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5 thoughts on “How to Change the World

  1. As always, a great posting! We donate to several charities here also…one group that is often over looked, our senior citizens. We make cupcakes for the *Meals on Wheels* folks to deliver to the seniors who are having a birthday – my heart melts everytime I hear from one of the recipients, they are genuinely touched that someone thought of them on their birthday. Many of them have no family left and this is the only recognition they get for their special day. I know for me here, I get so much more from these donations than those who receive it. It’s amazing what a little cake can do for someone else!

  2. Wonderful, wonderful wonderful!!! I love that you posted this! I am a participant in Icing Smiles and have had the opportunity to make 2 cakes for a couragous family. And a local photographer and myself are trying to get other vendors to help in throwing a wedding for a local couple who the bride has been battling cancer and it’s related complications for 4 years – we so want to give back – and we are not swimming in money but to be able to give back some of the gifts we have been given is an awesome thing! Thanks for bringing attention to this!

  3. I donate most of my bakery items. I love it. I have another Friend who does Team in Training and have seriously considered getting involved. You are a great role model and this article is right on.

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