If you are not already familiar, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based out of New York whose mission it is to bring awareness of and raise money for pediatric cancer. Gretchen Holt and Larry Witt founded this organization on the realization that there was very little money designated to pediatric cancer research. Their son Liam, who from the age of 2 to 6 ½ battled stage 4 cancer, was the inspiration behind all the hard work they have poured into this organization; and although he has passed, his spirit lives on in the continued enthusiasm that people nationwide have for the momentous changes this cause is striving to achieve.
With this same will to make a difference came the original idea behind the brain child that Cara Pearson and Michelle Riddle termed “Mama’s Night Out” (you can read about the 1st annual event by clicking HERE). This year, there were expectations – reasonable expectations, but added pressure nonetheless – to host the 2nd annual Mama’s Night Out event and really show the people of Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas how to be a Good Cookie and what Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is all about. The beauty of events like this is that they mean so many things to so many different people; and whether you are directly or indirectly affected by cancer, or perhaps not at all, it still gives women the chance to get together and celebrate their lives and the lives of those they love.
During the months and weeks leading up to the event, it was hard not to overhear the constant flow of ideas between Cara, Michelle, and all the other wonderful women involved in the creation of this event. Simply put, it was inspiring. Their unrestrained passion for this project for the second year in a row was evident to me in their dedication to each and every detail and the way in which they strived with every meeting to come up with the “bigger and better” concept that a 2nd annual event enacts.
Mama’s Night Out 2012 began with thoughts of orange (Liam’s favorite color) and a complimentary deep and gorgeous turquoise blue. So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when, after waiting in line with my two girlfriends amongst the large and growing crowd of other excited women, the details began to emerge: I was presented with an orange leather flower cuff.
This was simply one of many details, I’m sure, that the majority of women strutting through the beautifully draped ivory satin curtains at the event entrance did not notice that evening. But they were details that I had the pleasure of seeing get pulled together in the end as the event was finalized. Everything from the hand-crafted and hand-painted bake sale stand to the turquoise blue paint stir-sticks made raffle signs for each raffle item (yes, those were paint stir-sticks!)
Although Gretchen wasn’t able to make it to the event this year, her words of thanks and inspiration were passed along via a short video message meant to encourage women in the room to take action. As I looked around the room, I could see how her words captivated these women, many of them also mothers with beautiful children by whom they would do anything to save. The importance of the event became clear to me again this year as I glanced at these women around me; and in that moment I felt so honored to have been a part of the event process for the second year in a row…to be a part of something with such strength to invoke change for the better.