A visit with Gretchen Witt, founder of Cookies For Kids’ Cancer
To call Gretchen Witt a remarkable woman is a huge understatement. When Liam, her two-year-old son, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer in 2007 she could have sunk into a whirlpool of grief and despair. Instead, even though she was a working mom with another young child, Ella, Gretchen became a whirlwind, deciding, in her own words, “to bake a few cookies … 96,000, to be exact.” You might wonder whether and how one holiday bake sale could have an impact on pediatric cancer research and how Gretchen could mushroom it into a nationwide organization complete with two popular cookbooks. We visited Gretchen at her Califon home to find out. 


I can’t think of anything much worse for a parent than having such a sick little child. How did you ever cope?  
You know those dunking chairs at carnivals where they throw things at you and when one hits the target the chair falls into the water? I felt I was in that chair. I’d been hit. I was under water. Then I thought well, I could sit here and drown or I could do something that would help other kids, not just Liam. I found out that not only is childhood cancer the number one killer of children in this country, but you can do a lot for cancer research with not a whole lot of money; $100,000 funds a research project. I learned that progress everywhere was and still is being held up for lack of funding. That’s disgraceful. I had to do something about it. I just had to. I do public relations for OXO International. We make innovative kitchen tools. I didn’t know anything about fundraising. I thought gee, I can’t just ask people for money. I have to give them something in return. 


But … a bake sale? That sounds so, well, neighborhoody. Eighth grade trip. Old lady’s roof repair.   
That’s the whole point. A bake sale is something people can relate to. It was September. The holidays were coming up, and people are always looking for gifts. Who doesn’t love cookies? I thought: In return for a donation I’ll offer people cookies.
I did some math. I figured if we sold 8,000 dozen cookies at $29.99 a dozen we’d make about $240,000. But that meant baking 96,000 cookies. 

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