Kylie & Icing Smiles

All strapped down and loaded into the ambulance I stared at the ceiling and started tearing up. "Don't cry lady, you're going to be fine.  You're very lucky," the EMT guy assured with a wink.  But that wasn't what I was crying about.  I felt pretty sure I could tell that it wasn't anything too serious, and aside from sheer the shock of being hit by a car,  I was upset because I had a cake due in a few days. All I could think was "how am I going to get that cake done?"
I'm fine, I have a fractured leg, but nothing that won't be completely healed in a few months.  
I'd received an Icing Smiles email two weeks earlier, which meant that there's a little kid far away from home in a hospital receiving treatment on their birthday for something pretty serious and their parents have reached out to Icing Smiles to arrange for a really special birthday cake.

This is me on a cake delivery being wheeled around by my friends Tracy Quisenberry from Icing Smiles and Cynthia Hsu, who along with two wonderful and dedicated interns Mariel and Mandakini did most of the heavy lifting on this cake

This is the spectacular Kylie.  Five months ago Kylie was diagnosed with stage 4 high risk neuroblastoma.
I'd been following Kylie's story on Facebook, and it's utterly impossible not to fall in love with her and her amazing family. I was so struck by how much faith, love and courage they have and the enormous positivity and joy in their perspective. You really can't predict the timing and how the kids will be responding to their treatment on the day of their birthday, and Kylie was having a very rough day. It was also Mother's Day.  Bree's fondest wish for the day was for her sweet daughter to open her eyes, which she did, repeatedly.
Kylie's family along with Barbara Zobian from Candlelighters, NYC had done a beautiful job decorating her hospital room somehow making it festive and filled with love. Kylie's grandfather, Larry greeted everyone with big heart, open arms and stories for everyone.

"Kylie's favorite stuffed animals Turtle, Whoo Whoo (blue owl), meow meow, and chirp chirp... Kylie picked the names :) . She is in love w her animals and they all have special jobs to help her," mom Bree told me.

A seemingly tireless Tracy Quisenberry, loving force and founder of Icing Smiles, talks to mom, Bree, and the rest of the family after making the four-and-a-half hour drive down from DC to NYC for the landmark event.

This is Kylie's 2nd birthday cake.  It was also Icing Smiles 5,000th cake!
For me it was like coming full circle because I had the honor of making one of their first cakes four years ago.
Icing Smiles, a national, non-profit organization brightens the birthdays of children fighting cancer and other critical illnesses by supplying specialty birthday cakes for them and their siblings. Their goal of impacting not just the sick child, but their entire family, Icing Smiles makes it their mission to help create lasting memories and a day of normalcy despite hospitalization and illness.  Icing Smiles has over 5500 active volunteers across all 50 states delivering not just birthday cake, but real smiles for families undergoing an incredibly strenuous fight.

Clockwise from left: one of the amazingly upbeat nurses at the hospital, Tracy, Larry (grandfather/ambassador of good will), Chirp Chirp (valued member of Kylie's stuffed animal support team) and me.

We have a lot of stuffed animals around our house too, and pulled some in to model for us

Cynthia paints an ear with a powder pink food color mixed with lemon extract

Finishing up the details, a sea turtle from the San Diego Zoo gets his spots

Sweet fondant covered birds, ready for action

Inside: chocolate cake with layers of chocolate and vanilla buttercream

There's always a little bit of holding our breaths when its time for stacking...

Mom and Dad welcome us in as Kylie sleeps surrounded by love and her favorite stuffed animals.

The incredibly uplifting Barbara from Candlelighers, NYC compares the real Meow Meow to the cake version while Kylie holds on super tight to mom's hand

Usually we would make something on the scale of these beanie boos out of rice krispie treats covered in a sculpting chocolate and fondant and the turtles would be made out of cake.  For Kylie's cake we carved them out of Styrofoam, and covered them in chocolate and fondant in case she wasn't able to enjoy them on the day of her birthday, they would be there for her when she is more awake.
Someone commented on Kylie's facebook page recently that they "prayed that the tubes all over are soon replaced with fingerprint and cookie crumbs and instead of ventilators and moniter beeps all you hear are giggles and laughter."  I second that emotion.


  1. Absolutely wonderful, heart warming, generous, amazing, etc.! Way to go Icing Smiles and Kylie and Kate!

  2. Your cakes look lovely. Great work!!


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