For Blake Colvin, desserts can be the ultimate weakness, especially baked goods like cupcakes. She even has a dog named Cupcake. But these sugar-filled treats are becoming so much more than dessert for the 13-year-old Solvang-resident-and for other children. Colvin has been selling cupcakes after school and at local events for only a dollar each, to raise money for children with cancer. “Everyone loves cupcakes,” said Colvin. “And it’s only a dollar, so it’s really easy to help.”
The inspiration for Cupcakes for Cancer, the non-profit Colvin created with her mother, Stephanie, came from a schoolmate, Kevin Krzyston. When they were in eighth grade, Kryzyston was diagnosed with leukemia. Distraught by the news, Colvin decided to raise money by selling cupcakes. She raised $5,000 for Kryzston’s medical expenses.
Colvin’s decision to start Cupcakes for Cancer also grew out of her own experience. According to Stephanie, her daughter was “misdiagnosed” with a “life-threatening, terminal” form of cancer when she was nine years old.
“I wouldn’t take that for an answer,” said Stephanie. “I wanted a second opinion.”
To get that information, Stephanie flew her daughter to a clinic in Arkansas that specialized in the rare type of cancer she had been diagnosed with.
“They ran all the special tests, but couldn’t find any cancer,” said Stephanie. She decided that with the two conflicting opinions, she was going to get a third and flew Blake to New York. Their answer was that Blake didn’t have cancer, but that they suspected an autoimmune disease was making her sick. All the while, Blake had been taking medication in an attempt to cure what the various doctors thought she had.
When Stephanie took her daughter to Stanford Medical center, they confirmed that she had an autoimmune disease and started her on chemotherapy to stop the white blood cells from attacking her heart and lungs. Blake underwent Chemo and took chemo pills for two and a half years.
“She went to Stanford for chemo every two weeks,” said Stephanie. “She was around cancer kids for five to eight weeks and wanted to give back because of that experience.”
Blake decided to give back through the sweet treats she was so passionate about, cupcakes. So far she has raised $20,000 or the same amount of baked, frosted, and sold cupcakes for the Make A Wish foundation of which she was a recipient of.
Blake’s Wish was that she wanted to go to Atlantis in the Bahamas. “Here your kid is ill and you’ve gone through all this emotional and financial hardship, and what it does is it reunites you,” said Stephanie. The whole Colvin family spent a week at Atlantis and was brought back together, according to Stephanie. “It was a really good memory,” said Blake, who liked the dolphins best.
Fortunately, the chemo treatment worked and Blake was restored to her usual self. She joined the varsity golf team and track as a freshman at Santa Ynez High School near Solvang.
“If some had told me then that ‘Someday your daughter is going to be well, but not only that but you and her are going to have the energy to bake cupcakes and give back,’ I would have said they must have been smoking ganji,” said Stephanie.
The Colvins did give back and raised $16,000 for the Make A Wish of the Tri-Counties in 2008, granting three wishes. The amount allotted per wish is $5,000, even though the wish may not cost that much. Blake and her mother have also decided to give money to the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation in Santa Barbara, that provide families of cancer patients with grants up to $5,000 for living expenses. Cure Search, a national pediatric cancer research foundation, is partnering with Cupcakes for Cancer this year as well.
In order to help as many cancer patients as possible, Blake and her mother will be hosting a “swanky, frilly affair” or luncheon with tickets priced at $75. Author and columnist Starshine Roshell will be speaking and signing copies of her book Keep Your Skirt On. There will also be a live auction with items from Handsome Man Business as well as cooking lessons from the owner of Grappolo’s in Solvang.
“This luncheon is directed towards all three of those [organizations],” said Stephanie. “But who knows? We might make only $10, but at least we will have a lot of fun.”
The Colvins will he hosting the Cupcakes and Wishes Luncheon will be on Thursday, May 7, 11:30 a.m. at the Coach House located at the Santa Ynez Valley Inn in Solvang. For more info, visit Cupcakes for Cancer.