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BY MARK RUCKER

We’ve all celebrated a birthday or two (or 40+) and for most of us that means a party, presents and of course, a birthday cake. But for a lot of children in our community, a birthday means none of that. For many, it can be a very sad event. But that all changed three years ago thanks to an amazing Lexington woman who had an idea to combine her love of cake decorating and her passion to help others.

Sweet Blessings was founded in 2010 by Ashley Gann as a means to reach out to the underprivileged or terminally ill children in our community and their families. This Lexington based nonprofit creates unforgettable birthday cakes for children living in poverty or with a life-threatening illness who might otherwise not have a birthday celebration. And when I say “unforgettable” cakes I want you to think of the cakes that you might see on television shows like “Cake Boss.” These wonderful cakes are all multiple tiers, or three dimensional, and covered in fondant the likes of which would cost $4-6 per serving at local cake shops. Each cake is lovingly handmade by a small army of volunteers in one of two kitchens located in Lexington and Frankfort.

Sweet Blessings doesn’t sell cakes. It gives them away for free to children in need. It is a mission founded in love to help these children feel special  on their special day. I’m honored and blessed to be a board member of this wonderful organization.

Each cake is made with a specific child in mind. Referrals are received by Sweet Blessings each week from local schools or community organizations and the cakes are delivered to the children at school, or at home by the community organizations. The cakes may feature the child’s favorite sport or sports team, hobbies, favorite colors, cartoons or movie characters. (Gann jokingly says the only cake Sweet Blessings won’t make is one featuring the Duke Blue Devils.) Some recent designs included Hello Kitty, race cars, stuffed animals and a replica of R2D2. To see photos of Sweet Blessings’ incredible cakes you can go to www.sweetblessingscakes.org or “Like” Sweet Blessings on Facebook.

Since its  inception in 2010,  Sweet Blessings has served more than 2,000 children in the Central Kentucky area. In 2013 alone, 959 children in nine different Central Kentucky counties received cakes from Sweet Blessings. The goal for 2014 is to serve over 1000 children in our regions. But to do so takes a lot of volunteer time, love and money. That’s where you can help.

This May you will get your chance to help Sweet Blessings by participating in The Great Cake Race 5K/1M which will be held on the grounds of Keeneland on Sunday, May 4th at 4pm.
This will be our third year featuring chip timing by Three Way Racing. We will also be presenting overall and age group winners. This race is ideal for the serious runner, but also perfect for first timers. And if you’re looking for a short stroll to help out a good cause, there will also be a 1 mile run/walk. Before and after the race, participants will be  able to shop from more than 30 vendors and listen to local bands playing live music. After the race, everyone will get to enjoy free cupcakes and Blue Bell ice cream. That’s right! Free cupcakes and ice cream. What more could you ask for?

The Great Cake Race will be held at Keeneland on Sunday, May 4 at 4 pm. Register online at www.sweetblessingscakes.org.

Mark D. Rucker is a Lexington attorney, and the Hamburg Journal health and fitness columnist. He also serves on the board of Sweet Blessings.

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