UCF organization raises money for a sweet cause

There are over 300 clubs on campus for students to choose from, many of which volunteer their time within the Central Florida community. One such club is Cupcakes for a Cure.

Founded by LEAD scholar Nicole Edelstein in 2011, the idea for Cupcakes for a Cure came up in a group project. The club mainly collaborates with BASEcamp Children’s Cancer Foundation, a group that works closely with Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, Florida Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Hospital.

“When the club was invented, they decided to donate all the funds raised to [BASEcamp],” junior biomedical sciences major and current club president Fatemah-Iman Dewji said. “It was mostly because of how hands on they are with the kids and how empowering their mission is.”

It all started when Terri Jones Robbins began volunteering for the Leukemia Society in 1980. It was then that she met the patients that gave her the passion to begin her lifelong service within her community. In 1982, Robbins officially joined the staff of the Leukemia Society.

By 1985 Robbins’ brother was diagnosed with AIDS. Knowing how difficult it is for siblings and family members to watch their loved ones fight life threatening illnesses, Robbins decided to take action working with the teenagers she cared for. They started a support group called “starlighters” a spinoff of their parent support group, “candlelighters.”

A year later the teenagers chose Robbins to be their group leader. “It was because they knew I was fun and their parents knew I was trustworthy,” Robbins said.

In June of 1987 Robbins’ brother lost his battle with AIDS.

Looking for ways to do more, Robbins left the LSA in 1992 and found people to assist her in creating a non-profit organization and thus BASEcamp was created.

“The name BASEcamp came from the similarity in the encampments that are built as climbers climb mountains,” Robbins said. “Base camp is where you stop along the journey for rest, nourishment, guidance and encouragement to finish the climb.”

The term BASE is an acronym that stands for believe, achieve, support, educate, which are the foundation’s core values. It is with these values in mind that the foundation’s mission statement was written, which is “To provide a year around base of support for children and families facing the challenge of living with cancer and other life-threatening hematology and oncology illnesses.”

“The byproduct is always awareness,” Robbins said. “Edelstein’s project was extremely successful and has grown over the years.”

In 2011 Edelstein approached Robbins with the concept of raising funds for the BASEcamp foundation by selling cupcakes on campus.

“We are actually not allowed to bake per UCF regulations if we want to sell the baked goods on campus, so we get donations from various bakeries and restaurants,” Dewji said.

Some donors over the years have included Dunkin Donuts, Sweets by Holly and Cozee Café located in Sanford.

“I love knowing that I can make a difference in someone else’s life,” Dewji said. “Having even a small impact with these kids is really rewarding and seeing that the money goes to a foundation that is so amazing and really only there for the benefit of the children.”

The club’s main goal has always been to make a difference in their community and to help children that are suffering from pediatric cancer. Something current club fundraising coordinator Manuela Mejia-Correa, knows all too well.

“My last round of chemotherapy was over a year and a half ago and I was being treated in the pediatric oncology unit in the Florida Hospital,” Mejia-Correa, junior biomedical sciences major, said. “[BASEcamp] had come in with pizza and a target gift card to celebrate my end of chemo.”

It was during one of the parent’s night out events where Mejia-Correa was approached by the former club president about applying to be a board member.

“I love being able to help those kids,” Mejia-Correa said. “They go through so much – a child should not know what having cancer is like. I’ve been in their position and I’d give my all to change that situation for them.”

The BASEcamp Children’s Cancer Foundation, with help from groups such as Cupcakes for a Cure, has helped an average of 400 children and caregivers a week with various services such as milestone parties, daily food baskets and parent support groups and is estimated to have served over 10,000 families throughout the last 35 years.

Cupcakes for a Cure currently has around 270 members on KnightConnect, as well as a big following on their social media outlets. The club volunteers every month with BASEcamp and is hoping to start branching out their services in the future.

Students can join this sweet club by following Cupcakes for a Cure on Facebook or @CFC4AC on Instagram, as well as KnightConnect where students will receive emails about various upcoming events such as volunteer opportunities, socials and tabling.

For more information on BASEcamp and how to get involved visit their website at basecamp.org

Originally published Feb. 25, 2017