Icing Smiles Volunteers Bake for Sick Children and Their Families

Icing Smiles Cake

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The Record Exchange

By CARRIE SCOZARRO

A sick child is instant heartache for all involved, especially when the maladies are beyond the basics in the medicine cabinet. For children with significant health issues, Icing Smiles is one of many nonprofit organizations who provide sweet relief to ailing children and their families, even if only temporarily. And their relief is edible.

Icing Smiles’ “sugar angels,” as volunteer bakers are called, create confections that bring a smile to the face of everyone who gets to see—and eat—their cakes, cookies, and cupcakes.

Longtime Make-A-Wish Foundation volunteer Tracy Quisenberry founded Icing Smiles in 2010, prompted in part by the premature birth and subsequent health issues of her two children, according to the organization’s website.

After discovering the restorative potential of baking and sharing cakes “that transported kids to a sugary world of fantasy and imagination,” Quisenberry created the national nonprofit. To date, the organization has coordinated the creation and delivery of nearly 25,000 cakes.

According to the Icing Smiles Assistant Director, Karen Griffiths, more than 13,000 sugar angels volunteer across all 50 states, including 75 active bakers in Idaho and 30 in Montana.

Susan Richmond of Athol, Idaho, volunteered with Icing Smiles after seeing a social media post about them.

“After researching who they were and their mission, there was no way I couldn’t help,” said Richmond, whose business is called CAKE, Let Them Eat It.

Richmond has baked two cakes for Icing Smiles since starting her business in 2015, noting there have not been many Icing Smiles requests in north Idaho where she lives. Severely ill children tend to go to western Washington for treatment, she said.

The first Icing Smiles cake Richmond created was for a 17-year-old with an aggressive form of cancer. She said children are known to the bakers only by their first names and what kind of cakes they might enjoy.

Richmond fashioned an edible droid known as BB-8 for the teenage Star Wars fan, figuring the cake would otherwise cost $550 for her eight hours of labor, ingredients, and operating expenses.

The second cake Richmond made was for the sibling of a young man with severe heart problems.

“They were unable to go to Disneyland because of the brother’s condition and the pandemic, so I brought the castle to them,” said Richmond.

Like Richmond, Tara Eldridge of Idaho Falls also heard about Icing Smiles from Facebook and has made six cakes for the organization since starting her business, Snapdragon Cake Co. in 2012.

One memorable project featured the massive hand of The Hulk, a Marvel Comics’ Avengers character, said Eldridge. When she dropped the cake off, the recipient cried, she said.

“It made me realize that the cake … is probably one of the few joys these kids get while they’re fighting their battles,” said Eldridge, who first learned cake decorating while working at a grocery store.

Veronica Pavlosky lives in Missoula, Mont., and has made two Icing Smiles cakes since launching her Sweet Vee’s Bakery in 2020.

She made a large, two-tiered unicorn cake for a 3-year-old featuring a blue, purple, and pink butter-cream mane.

“It seems like a small thing to provide a cake for a family, but when you are in the middle of treatments for your child, every extra detail can seem like a huge burden,” said Pavlovsky. “Whether it is for an ill child or their sibling that may not always take priority, I am just glad to help a family in need with my skills.” ISI

Visit IcingSmiles.org to volunteer or find out about sugar angels in your area.

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