Disease affects the entire family, especially when a child is touched by illness. One volunteer organization is trying to make life a little sweeter for kids battling cancer and other medical conditions.
You can't help but think about Eli Horn when you step foot on an Ames playground. Dad Aaron Horn says, "Eli loved parks, every park in Ames he hit."
Eli has a special connection to Moore Park. Horn says, “You can't help but think about Eli and imagine him playing alongside his brother Isaiah on this equipment."
You'll see Eli’s name on a plaque in Moore Park, but Eli never got a chance to play on it. Horn says, "Eli was born in 2004 and was a happy healthy boy, up until 2007, and we noticed he was acting funny with his stomach.
Eli battled neuroblastoma the next few years. He beat that cancer, but then developed Leukemia. He passed away in January 2012. His little brother Isaiah was born while Eli was going through treatments. Horn says, "A lot of times the siblings sit back and kind of watch all this happen, and their lives are completely disrupted, just as much as everybody else in the family."
Isaiah celebrated his 6th birthday at Eli's Army Base this summer. And, a volunteer organization helped make the celebration a little sweeter. Bonnie Alley with Icing Smiles says, "We are a nonprofit organization that delivers custom cakes to critically ill children and their siblings."
Volunteer bakers with Icing Smiles have created hundreds of cakes for kids the past couple years. Bakers supply all the ingredients, spending hours and sometimes hundreds of dollars making "dream cakes" for the kids. Alley says, "We try to go above and beyond a sheet cake, give them something custom. We really want to pack a punch there and give them a dream cake, just an extraordinary fun cake."
Alley delivered a Skylander inspired creation for Isaiah. She says, about the experience, "It was amazing, just amazing. I get goose bumps still thinking about it. It's just the very least I can do to be a part of their day, to try to help bring a smile and give them some special memories really."
Horn says, “When a community can get behind a family and do things that provide cakes for the kids and siblings or raise money and build a park in memory of those kids, it's just a really big deal and we really appreciate that support."
Cakes are donated by bakers, but it costs icing smiles about $500 per state each year to get word out to the families about the free service. The group is hosting a 5K Cake Chase to raise funds Saturday, October 12. It starts at nine a.m. at the Aquatic Center in Altoona.