There is something about sinking your teeth into a moist cupcake. Come to think about it, there is nothing better than sinking your teeth into any cupcake – whether it’s vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or even peppermint.

And what about the topping? The jury is out on what combination is the best. From those hundreds and thousands, sparkly stars or crunchy little balls. It sometimes does not matter when they sit on top of that delicious yummy icing. And then you get those special toppers made with fondant and then you can really turn the ordinary cupcake into a piece of art.

But let’s get down to basics because we all agree that the best recipe is the one for vanilla cupcakes passed down from your mother’s mother to you. It’s tried and tested, handwritten on a piece of paper that is stuck in your recipe book that basically combines the dry ingredients with the wet – this is the ultimate cupcake recipe.

So what if we took those delicious cupcakes added in our love for baking them and combined it all with a desire to help children with life-threatening disease? Surely that would be a recipe for success or the sweetest way to help save a life?

Welcome Cupcakes of HOPE

The idea to start the charity Cupcakes of HOPE was born nine years ago when Sandy Cipriano, herself a mother, shared the heartache and pain of a close friend who lost her three-year-old daughter to cancer. Out of this experience, Sandy realized that she needed to do something that would change lives – forever. She believed that no matter how small every little bit would help and that her faith in God would see this through.

With her restaurant ‘Rio Sol Portuguese Restaurant” in Vereeniging, South of Johannesburg as a venue, Sandy held her first fundraising event. “The first year we raised R5000 and helped one little boy”. Today the non-profit organization has helped more than 1500 patients.

“This is really the SWEETEST way to help save a life,” she said.

South Africa’s 8thannual National Cupcake day

September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. And although childhood cancer is relatively rare, the rate has been increasing. According to a 2014 report by the American Cancer Society, it is now estimated that one in 408 children worldwide will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 15. Yet with early detection and treatment in pediatric oncology units, globally the survival rate can be as high as between 70% and 80%, with variance depending on the type of cancer.

It is estimated that currently less than half of children with cancer in South Africa are diagnosed, and many of those who are diagnosed are in an advanced stage of illness. One of the reasons for this is a lack of awareness and knowledge in parts of the health system regarding the early warning signs of childhood cancer.

And this is one of the specific aims of the charity – to raise awareness about early warning signs. An educational pamphlet translated into 20 different languages – including the 11 official languages of South Africa – is available for download on the website: www.cupcakesofhope.org.

Let’s face it, early detection can help save a child’s life. These pamphlets are handed out at all events during the month of September and distributed at awareness events throughout the year.

On September 28 the country will mark the eighth National Cupcake Day 4 Kids with Cancer and everyone is encouraged to get involved. Mark the date, sign up to start baking or just decorating, give up your time to help out at an event or donate R10 and sink your teeth into a delicious cupcake  – every little bit of effort combines to literally make a difference.

Activations and events have been planned for 88 malls across the country and Cupcakes of HOPE aims to better their target reached last year of two million rand.

Funds raised enable the organization to assist about 70 patients each month. From paying their medical expenses or day-to-day nutritional needs to paying for the transport money to and from hospital, Cupcakes of HOPE is there to assist as much as they can.

“This year we have already registered 65 new patients on our books. Last month we donated R25 000 to 16-year-old Damon for his prosthetic leg and a further R75 000 to Jordan who flew to the USA for his trial treatment,” said Cipriano

It is a community-driven project that brings everyone involved to ‘bake’ a difference in the lives of children with life-threatening diseases. Volunteers are aptly called Cupcake Angels and the best news is that anyone can become one.

BAKING A DIFFERENCE

So whether you just lick the bowl or organize the entire event, Cupcake Angels can come in all ages, shapes and sizes. You can be three or 90 years old, a student, fireman, lawyer or doctor, people from different backgrounds, income levels all come together to bake a difference.

“All that is needed is a bit of time and loads of LOVE. We want to spread cupcake love all across South Africa,” said Cipriano

To find the nearest participating mall or contact the co-ordinator to pledge to bake 24 or 48 cupcakes go to the website www.cupcakesofhope.org. If you can’t do any of this it doesn’t matter just show up at the mall event and donate R10 in exchange for a delicious cupcake.

Cupcakes truly are the little hand-sized delights of the confectionery world, coming in as many variations as your imagination can dream up, topped with everything from sprinkles to frosting and sweeties.

Just think National Cupcake Day on September 28 is the opportunity to reward yourself with one of history’s most delightful treats. It’s heaven in just three bites.