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Week 49: Wendy Martin

Dear Batter Up friends—meet Wendy Martin and her cookie team!

Wendy is one of my favorite people that I have met through Batter Up. Most people would assume that I say that because she bakes for a cause—like me—and they would be partially right. But I just adore her personality. Everyone is always excited to get a cake, but she was completely over-joyed and adorable. (It didn’t hurt that delivery day just happened to be her birthday too.)

Who is Wendy Martin you ask? Well, she was nominated by Cam McPherson and this is what he had to say:

“[Wendy Martin] lives in the Fan with her three children, husband and dog. I originally met Wendy when I worked at CRT/tanaka (now PadillaCRT). She was a previous employee and was reaching out to the office because she was starting the first ever Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale in Richmond. Wendy organized a team and we put on bake sales throughout the city. In the last four years, the bake sales have raised more than $200,000. [A] large part is due to Wendy’s passion and dedication. Even outside CKC, she’s a huge community advocate. You should check out the CKC Facebook page and you’ll see her posts.”

$200,000 for kids cancer research? YUM!

People tend to find it hilarious that I’m not a big fan of cake. It’s true. I typically try my test cakes just to make sure I like them. That’s it. I’m not usually tempted for more unless it’s exceptionally good. Cookies, on the other hand, ARE MY SUGAR KRYPTONITE! I love love love them. Any flavor is acceptable (as long as they don’t have raisins) and the crunchier the better. So, I’m happy to award cake to anyone who bakes cookies AND raises money for cancer at the same time. The fact that she does it for kids? Icing of the cake, errr cookie.

Cookies for Kids Cancer was created in 2007 when 2-year-old Liam Witt was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. As if the news weren’t heartbreaking enough, the family subsequently learned that there were very few treatments for children battling cancer due to a lack of funding. With the help of 250 volunteers, Liam’s mom Gretchen baked and sold 96,000 cookies, raising more than $400,000 for research. Word spread, and people nationwide began asking, “How can I help?”

Wendy Martin was one of the people who heard the call and brought Richmond into the Cookies for Kids Cancer initiative. With the help of a dedicated committee and a slew of volunteers, Wendy and her team hit the streets every year for a massive one-day cookie bake sale resulting in thousands of cookies and thousands of dollars. The very first year, Wendy was able to pull together all of the ideas—from concept to fruition—in 20 days. She and her team secured all of the bake sale sites, staffed them with volunteers, provided each with hundreds of cookies, provided each spot with colorful banners and decorations, and then collected the counted all of the money. By year two, that process had been streamlined down to just providing the cookies. People came out of the woodwork wanting to defeat pediatric cancer and were willing to do the work themselves. Anyone who wanted to participate could register and set up a spot for a bake sale. The cookies were provided and the volunteers did everything else. Within a month after the event Wendy had received roughly 30 checks totaling over $30,000.

The cookie dough is donated by Jacqueline’s Gourmet Cookies in Massachusetts and the owner and employees of Daystar Desserts team up with volunteers get all of that dough baked and packaged. This year’s RVA Cookies for Kids Cancer is Saturday September 6. They’ll be all over Richmond—go find them!

If you were scrolling through the photos you may have noticed something different. I was thrilled to have Cam McPherson—Wendy’s nominator—along with Amy Lacey and Abraham from Channel 8 News join me. Amy contacted me about doing a story on Batter Up for their weekly Positively Richmond segment and said she’d like to follow me on a delivery. Wendy had just been nominated and I really loved the “baking for a cause” meets “baking for a cause” angle to the story, so I reached out to Cam to see if we could make it happen. After a lot of coordination and secret emails, we pulled it off. Wendy was having a Cookies for Kids Cancer committee meeting at her front yard community table that she and her husband built after being inspired by a TEDx talk on getting to know your neighbors. It was the perfect opportunity to ambush her. And that’s just what we did! I did an interview prior to walking over to the house, Abraham filmed the surprise, Amy did interviews with Wendy and Cam, and the whole thing was just awesome. If you’d like to see the news cast (which originally aired that night) click here.

And now for the cake! This week was a doooooooozy. I got really ambitious and it turned out great. The cake was a yellow butter cake with salted caramel Italian merigue buttercream icing, salted caramel drizzle, and topped with homemade salted butter caramel popcorn. (You can find the recipe here on La Pêche Fraîche.) As I’ve already stated once today, cake does nothing for me. But this icing and that popcorn—Oh. My. Freaking. Gawd. I can’t even describe how amazing they were. The icing was really intimidating when I read it and I didn’t think I’d pull it off, but I did. And I’ll do it again. If you could eat Mulberry silk, this icing is what it would taste like. (Oh, and it just happens to have  a pound and a half of butter in it too. No big deal.) Needless to say, it was a very special cake, for a very special person. Keep up the great work Wendy!