VB Gives Back
VB Gives Back: Christina Tosi
June 1, 2018
After her son Liam was diagnosed with cancer, Gretchen Witt wanted to find a big way to give back. “All anyone has to do is spend five minutes on a hospital floor where children are fighting cancer to be motivated to do anything they can to help,” says Gretchen. “Even something as crazy as baking 96,000 cookies.” In 2007, she teamed up with a bakery to do just that – she sold all 96,000 cookies with 100% of the profits going to fund this crucial research.
Cancer is the #1 disease killer of children in the United States and receives less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes towards research around kids’ cancers. “The sad reality is that children can’t advocate for themselves the way adults can, so their voices aren’t heard,” says Gretchen.
Gretchen’s son lost his battle with cancer in 2011, but Cookies for Kids’ Cancer continues to grow. Milk Bar founder Christina Tosi got involved after a bake sale in Amagansett and today serves on the organization’s board of directors, working towards more funding, more research and more options for kids battling pediatric cancer. We talked to Christina about her involvement with this incredible organization.
Gretchen Witt and Christina Tosi
How did you first meet Gretchen Witt?I first met Gretchen at a Cookies for Kids’ Cancer bake sale in Amagansett. We hit it off instantly. I was completely moved by her story and her mission with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. When Gretchen’s sweet son Liam was diagnosed with cancer, she baked and sold 96,000 cookies to raise money for pediatric cancer research. That is a crazy feat! Gretchen and I just connected – we both want to bake cookies to make the world a better place. When it comes down to it, it’s as simple as that.
What inspired you to get involved with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer?Gretchen’s industrious and entrepreneurial spirit is what first drew me to the cause. I was touched by her story, her energy, her strength, her compassion. Gretchen took something in her life that was so, so difficult – first the diagnosis and then ultimately the loss of her son, Liam, to childhood cancer – and she turned it into something that does good in a HUGE way.
For me, baking has always been about making the world a little bit sweeter. Some days that is as simple as bringing a tin of Milk Bar cookies to share at a meeting. But working with Cookies for Kids’ has been an opportunity to do good in a much bigger way. The money we have raised through Cookies for Kids’ has funded 100 different research grants and resulted in 37 new treatments that are in clinical trial. 37! If we had done this ten years ago, Liam would have had more options. That breaks my heart, and it is the reason we keep going.
How has your role with the charity evolved over the years?I’ve been involved in different facets over the years. These days, I’m on the Board of Directors for Cookies for Kids’ and I host the annual Chefs for Kids’ Cancer Gala, a completely stunning evening of incredible food and drink with other like-minded, big hearted chefs and mixologists.
I also host Family Fun Day, an awesome craft and cookie-filled extravaganza that makes me feel like a total kid again.
What are the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer goals for the future? How do you see the organization growing?We want to see more fundraising, more research, more clinical trials, and ultimately more options for kids battling pediatric cancer. We’ve come so far, but there is still so much work to be done, and we won’t stop until there is a cure. I hope that Cookies for Kids’ continues reach more and more folks— both those who are able to contribute to the cause, and those who could benefit from the research it is funding. The organization already has an awesome network of chefs and hard bodies that are eager to pitch in, but I know it can grow even further.
Your favorite cookie?My all-time favorite cookies are my grandmother’s crackled oatmeal cookies! With a glass of milk, I could slam five in a minute. She used to roll them in powdered sugar and let them get beautiful and crackly as they baked. Those cookies, and both of my grandmothers, are really the reason I learned and love to bake in the first place. Today, though, I also have a soft spot for Milk Bar’s Corn Cookie. Sweet and salty is my jam and I really can’t resist the beautiful, unapologetic buttery-ness of the Corn Cookie (especially when it’s crumbled into a MilkQuake with pickled strawberry jam!).
Want to buy some cookies? Check out Cookies for Kids’ Cancer here or pick up a dozen (or two!) at all Veronica Beard store locations.
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