It’s taken me a while to write this blog. I’ve started several times & each time felt that the words just wouldn’t come to express my feelings, so I kept editing. I finally realized that even though I’m not the most eloquent person in the world in the written word, sometimes the language of the heart is enough. And this cake & blog come from the heart.
I am an Icing Smiles Sugar Angel. Icing Smiles (IS) is an incredible organization that leans on bakers like myself to provide birthday cakes to children that are very ill, or sometimes the siblings of a child with a terrible illness, as often the family is so overwhelmed by medical bills & hospital visits that there is little time or funds for anything else. The families have to apply to IS & once approved they can get a ‘normal’ birthday cake every year for the child, & they get one ‘Dream Cake’—which is as over the top as the family & baker want to make it!
When a family qualifies, IS sends out a ‘Call to Action’ to its Sugar Angels in the family’s area, to see who has availability on their schedule to create the cake. It’s SOOO exciting to see that email pop up in your inbox, & there is friendly competition among bakers over who can grab the opportunity first! How often do you get to be an Angel & a Hero at one time, providing a work of sugar art that brings a smile to a child’s face that has seen too many tears? And to give them a reprieve of normalcy for a brief time to escape the reality of the tubes & needles?
The cakes are gifted to the children at NO expense to the families! Icing Smiles depends on its network of Sugar Angels to create & donate the cakes. These poor families are often so crushed by medical bills that affording a cake at all would be a struggle. A custom work of sugar art would otherwise be out of the question.
I got one of those coveted emails on March 23rd. It told the story of a boy named Ryan who was turning 7 years old. It contained this link: https://maytheforcebewithryan.com I clicked on the link & started reading the blog posts. (And you should too–do it now!) The Preface said : “In our humble opinion, to know Ryan is to love Ryan. He is equal parts feisty and sweet, athletic and intellectually curious. He is all boy………..As the weeks passed, Ryan became more and more tired, and less and less interested in doing the things that he had always loved to do. We didn’t realize it at the time, but that is how his story began.” To the next post: “Last Wednesday started out like any other day. We woke up at 6:15 am, got dressed, ate breakfast and hightailed it over to the boys’ school for the (awesome) Veterans Day assembly that started at 7:30 am.
By noon, however, our day – and our lives – turned upside down, when we learned that our Ry-guy had a brain tumor.”
This smiling little boy who faced all obstacles with a smile, this mom & dad who chronicled his journey with such grace & strength, & this family that exemplified love in its highest form–touched my heart.
They requested a Dream Cake for Ryan. I was connected with Ryan’s amazing mom, Amy, to get the details. He wanted a mini golf cake! He was having his party at Peter Pan Mini Golf & he wanted a mini golf course as his cake. Amy sent pictures of cakes he liked.
My Cake Minions & I brainstormed ideas of mini golf holes based off his preferences, & we decided to create a windmill hole, lots of water, a stone bridge, & a cool water wheel. We made a half sheet cake, of which one side was Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Silk filling, & the other side was Vanilla Ice Ice Baby cake with White Chocolate buttercream filling. All the decor was edible!
I arrived at Peter Pan a few minutes before the family, & I waited eagerly to meet them! The moment Ryan topped the stairs, he saw his cake! He came running over, climbed up on the seat for a better view, & had a fit! Then…he turned to me & just gave me the biggest bear hug ever! I hugged him back & felt so much joy.
At this point, I finally got to meet Amy! She’s tall, gorgeous, & the sweetest mom in the world!
Ryan was so happy!!!
And so was I!!!
Later, Amy sent me pics of Ryan having his cake & eating it too!
I received this email from Amy a few days later: “The cake was (and still is) AMAZING! Equally beautiful and delicious. Everything about it was perfect. Ryan had a procedure this morning and when he was in recovery, waking up from general anesthesia, he had me show the nurse a picture of his birthday cake!!!”
You think a cake is ‘just a cake’ to a child? Not hardly! (or even for us big kids at heart!) It means so much. It is special–created just for them. And they understand it! They know the love & time that goes into it. They know.
It reminds me of about 14 years ago, when I was sitting in front of our television, painstakingly piping a gazillion webs onto Spiderman for a cake for our sweet nephew’s 4th birthday. I stopped to shake some of the cramps out of my hand, & my dear husband said, ‘Honey, he’s 4. He’s not going to understand the work that goes into this.” I replied, “I DON’T CARE! He’s going to love it, & he’s going to feel special & that’s ALL that matters!” And you know what, as soon as he saw the cake, he stared at it for a long time, taking in every detail, without making a sound. And then he looked up at me with the sweetest face & said “Aunt Christy, this took you a long time, didn’t it?” I almost died, & I got to say I TOLD YOU SO!!! (wife points!)
I’m not going to lie. I drove back to the kitchen from that cake delivery with tears in my eyes. It’s not fair. It sucks. No child should have to endure this. No family should have to see their precious child suffer, & suffer deeply along with them. I don’t know why these things happen. They shouldn’t.
Ry-Guy—you mean more to me than that cake did to you! I’m so glad our paths crossed, & that you smiled. You laughed. You had a ball. You chowed DOWN on some cake. The cake was a memory that comforted you & made you happy again, right after you endured another procedure. The cake wasn’t my gift to you, YOU are a gift to ME!
May the Force Be With You!
P.S. If the mission of Icing Smiles has touched you & you’d like to help, visit https://www.icingsmiles.org/ to find out more, & donate if your heart leads you. It only costs $35 in admin fees to Bake A Difference!!!