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Meet Gretchen Witt, Founder of Cookies for Kids Cancer

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Over the last couple of weeks, to honor this season of giving, we’ve posted about women who are dedicated to improving the lives of mothers and their children around the world.  The last organization we’re featuring in our little series not only benefits kids, but it creates a fun opportunity for them to make a change in this world. Gretchen Witt, the founder of Cookies for Kids Cancer, shares her inspirational story about how she turned a profound loss into a far-reaching battle against pediatric cancer. Tell us a little about Cookies for Kids Cancer, and your story. In February of 2007, my 2 1/2 year old son Liam was diagnosed with a pediatric cancer called neuroblastoma. It was a complete shock to us to learn that not only did our precious son have cancer, but it’s the number one disease killer of children in the U.S. Number one. Who knew? What was even more shocking to us was hearing how little funding pediatric cancers receive as a whole.  Less than 4 percent of the National Cancer Institutes’ multi-billion budget is directed to pediatrics. The limited funds and lack of awareness made me determined to try to do something to help. I decided to hold a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research. With the help of 250 volunteers, we baked and sold 96,000 cookies and raised more than $420,000 for a new treatment in development that first year. We realized we had come up with an easy way for people to get involved in pediatric cancer…by being Good Cookies! Cookies for Kids’ Cancer launched in September of 2008 and since then we have had several thousand events in all 50 states and 13 countries raising millions of dollars. And, just like we did in the beginning, we still offer cookies with 100% of the profit going to childhood cancer research. gretchen-bake-sale-photo How can other mothers support your efforts? It’s as easy as hosting a Cookies for Kids’ Cancer event— anything from gathering some friends to organize a bake sale to planning a mom’s night out. It’s awesome to see mom power in action. Do something you know and love and you can’t go wrong. Can you give us 3 ideas to help get our kids involved in giving back? Oh goodness. We have had so many events organized by kids that are so inspiring. Let kids know about the need, share with them what other kids have done, and then support them however they want to get involved whether it’s organizing a Good Cookie 5k run (one inspiring 14-year old did, and raised more than $20,000) or creating a Cookies for Kids’ Cancer club like the students at Calabasas High School. Every dollar helps fund critical research that is giving children more options. One of the first projects Cookies for Kids’ Cancer helped to fund is a treatment that became available about seven months after my son lost his battle. It was a treatment he could have received if he had been able to continue fighting. But he didn’t. Now we must do what he would want us to do and help other kids. You’re amazing, Gretchen! Every year, Pink Chicken hosts a July 4th bake sale at our Amagansett store and it’s a highlight of our summer. And this winter, we’ll be checking out cookiesforkidscancer.org to find CKC bake sales for our gingerbread men, too. Keep up the incredible work. Click here to watch Gretchen join Kathie Lee and Hoda on last weeks The Today Show. http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/50160508

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