Couple raises more than $100,000 for St. Jude, while he fights cancer

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 5:49 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The original goal felt big, a bake sale to raise $10,000 for St. Jude. Now, a Henrico couple has raised more than $100,000 for the hospital, all while facing their own battle with cancer.

David Budnick is facing cancer for the second time. But he and his wife spend hours upon hours raising money for St. Jude - a hospital they’ve never used - because they believe so strongly in what it does.

It started with a pipe dream or maybe we should call it a pie dream. A Thanksgiving bake-sale fundraiser for St. Jude.

“I decided I just wanted to do a little more,” said Maria Budnick.

So, she started asking friends and family to help her bake.

“This is what’s going on,” said Maria. “I only have five pies. Can you drop whatever you’re doing and change it and just make pies for me? And she came up with 50 pies. Her daughter came up with 15, um, and so on and so forth.”

Maria and David knew people needed help that time of year.

“You’re not only making a donation, you’re not having to bake and that’s our motto. We do the baking, so you stay out of the kitchen.”

The tradition continued, and the money kept coming in.

“We did it one year and it kind of worked out,” said Maria. “And then it morphed from there. It went from being this little cocoon and into this beautiful butterfly, and that’s what it is now. We have this wonderful bake sale that everybody looks forward to when people come in year after year and they know that we’re there and they know they’re.”

“Everything is overpriced,” said David.

The couple says everyone always pays anyway.... to help the kids. And that money pays off in support for St. Jude kids and their families.

“You can see the kids being strolled around in the little red wagons and that is just, it’s a tearjerker when you see it, it’s just like, you know, and you count your blessings,” said Maria.

The Budnicks know the toll struggles like cancer can take.

David has faced cancer twice- the first time in 2016. And again now.

This means he knows quite a bit about what some of these kids are going through.

And he’s doing all this fundraising while fighting his own battle.

”So we’re adults,” said Maria. “We’ve lived It’s never nice to hear you have cancer, but we’ve lived a life. A child hasn’t had that opportunity.”

“They haven’t lived, they haven’t partied, they haven’t gone to college,” said Maria. “They haven’t done and experienced the things that we already have. So we’ve been there, done that. They have that opportunity.”

And so despite all their own personal struggles, they have devoted hours upon hours to help those kids.

“Sometimes I feel like I put, you know, I work in 8 hours, hour day, and then I come home and I work in additional five, six, 7 hours on St Jude stuff, especially when I’m having an event coordinating, closing and we’re just a two-man team,” said Maria. “We don’t have a, we don’t have a committee, we don’t have a group of people.”

But they say the satisfaction is in knowing their work and fundraising are making a difference.

“Why do I work so hard? Because I can. I work so hard because I can,” she emphasized.

The Budnicks do it all, one pie at a time. They’re following the pipe dream from St. Jude’s founder, Danny Thomas: That no child should have to die in the dawn of life. And the work the Budnicks are doing brings us closer to that ultimate goal.

Budnicks loved St. Jude so much, that they even visited for their 20th wedding anniversary. And they say they’ll keep raising money for the hospital- and hope others will too.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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