On Friday, Cathy Lewis was spending her night like always; working on a cake that's so much more than just a recipe cooked at 350 degrees.
"It's really almost like art," said Lewis, sculpting a designer cake bust of Buzz Lightyear with modeling chocolate. "You start with a white canvas and a backdrop. In order to make it a character people recognize, you've got to put the details into it."
For her Buzz, that meant the right space ranger wing span, perfect flight suit activator placement, exact squiggle on the chin and precise angle of the raised brow.
For her children, it's not so bad to have a mom who's good with cake.
"When they get up in the morning, and if they can tell me who the character is, then we know we're on the right target for who it's supposed to be, " said Lewis, looking over at her children closely watching her work.
Baking, rolling, slicing and sculpting, Buzz alone had taken 20 hours so far. However, every minute was worth it for the founder of Cakes Against Cancer for Kids.
"We live in a very small town in Princeton, KY, and three years ago, four kids in our elementary school were diagnosed with cancer," Lewis said. "I decided one of the things I could offer was a special cake."
Since that moment, Lewis said Cakes Against Cancer for Kids has grown to include more than 2,000 bakers across the country, all striving to make the coolest, most ambitious designer cakes free of charge for children undergoing cancer treatments.
"In just two years, we're at over 500 kids this year to receive cakes so far," said Lewis. "We get kids daily."
One of those children is Zaiden Hauter, of Nashville, who turned 6 years old with a Sonic the Hedgehog cake from Cakes By Priscilla. It came complete with power rings, totem poles and edible Green Hill Zone.
Frantically shredding his way through gift after gift, mom Shelly Hauter said Zaiden's a kid always able to smile, no matter whether he's at a party or in a hospital room.
"He has neuroblastoma stage 4," Hauter said. "We're in the hospital a lot. He's doing treatment every two weeks. He never complains. He's ready to go do whatever he has to do. He's a lot stronger than I am."
Hauter said she's had to leave work to handle the full time task of Zaiden's treatments.
"We have follow-ups, exams, blood work, it's pretty busy," she said. "There's really not another option."
According to Lewis, it's stories like Zaiden's that drive the hours of work in a nationwide effort that all started in a little kitchen in Princeton.
"There are things kids shouldn't go through like daily doctors appointments, blood draws, all sorts of things they're doing all the time," Lewis said. "This is the one moment you walk in and offer something kids should be getting. Cake! It's something fun, and it's for them. It's for their birthday, and they relax, and they look like a kid should look. They smile, and they're excited to see their cake."
It's just a few slices of help baked at 350 degrees.
"We hardly get days where we don't have to do anything," Hauter said. "One day is fine with me."
"Giving these kids an opportunity to smile and act like a kid, it makes it all worth it," Lewis said.
Cakes Against Cancer for Kids will be working with the Nashville CureSearch Walk on Oct. 18 at 2500 West End Ave. Funds will be going to childhood cancer research.
For more on Cakes Against Cancer for Kids, you can visit their site.
For more on Zaiden Hauter's story, you can visit his Facebook page.
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