No parent wants to even consider the ‘rare’ possibility that their child could be diagnosed with cancer. But the unthinkable does happen.
‘Mamas Night Out,’ the second annual fundraising event organized by photographer Michelle Riddle and Cara Pearson of, will take place this Saturday at the top of the Ritt building in downtown Santa Cruz. The event focuses on bringing public awareness to childhood cancer research shortage and to help fill in the gap by raising money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer; an organization founded in 2008, by Gretchen and Larry Witt, after their son Liam was diagnosed at the age of two with Neuroblastoma. Sadly, he lost the four yearlong battle.
“Due to the lack of funding that pediatric cancer gets and the fact that it is not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to invest in these ‘rare cancers,’ survival rates for pediatric cancer have not increased in the past 20 years,” says Riddle.
Having worked in marketing for Charles Schwab and The Gap prior to becoming a mom 10 years ago, Riddle now resides in Scotts Valley with her husband and three small children. Her desire to raise awareness and work in fundraising for pediatric cancer was born after following Liam’s battle with cancer which she had read about in Cookie magazine several years back. The empathy she felt for this family drove her need to help and Cookies for Kids’ Cancer became her passion. Riddle held bake sales and then connected with Pearson, mother of two and Vice President of Pacific Cookie Company. Both inspired, they teamed up aspiring to fight against pediatric cancer.
With their symbolic cookie, Pacific Cookie Company has since become a major player in the Cookies for Kids’ Cancer battle, says Pearson, www.mamasnightout.com
“There was an immediate connection between us,” Pearson says of Riddle, “mainly because we both had small children, but it did not hurt that we baked really good cookies and Gretchen and Larry were looking to inspire people to “be a good cookie” and donate to their cause.”
A sold out event, Mamas Night Out will host about 350 excited mamas looking to spend some dough Mother’s Day weekend on merchants like Designs, ,, and many more while supporting a very important cause. Henna tattoos, tarot card readings, logo accessories, appetizers, wine and martinis will also be part of the entertainment.
“Mamas go out with their “momtourage” every month or so. We eat, drink margaritas and complain about the things in our life that are not going quite as planned. I thought why not take the idea of a mamas night out and make it for a good cause,” Riddle says.
A raffle will be held, honoring a $1000 prize package that includes everything one needs to host a bake sale for their own Cookies for Kids' Cancer fundraiser. A chance to win 75 other donated raffle items from local businesses emphasizes the community response and need for greater awareness to this important cause.
"We hope women leave the event inspired to go make a difference. To go into their communities and share the facts about pediatric cancer, to not run away when someone is talking about it," says Riddle.
There are many still hoping to come to the sold out event and now have their names on a waiting list. The popularity of the occasion reveals greater awareness and a positive response to the aid that Cookies for Kids' Cancer can provide.
“We wanted to be able to show women that you do not need to spend thousands of dollars to make a difference when it comes to a charity,” says Riddle.
The public event sold out quickly and there is now a waiting list for those hoping to par-tay. If last minute changes are inevitable and ticket purchasers have a change in plans, there are many who would appreciate the pass.
“We have 25 people on the wait list and in case someone cannot use their ticket and have had to say not to another 50 people. It’s a good problem to have, but wish we could have everyone share in this magical night,” Riddle says.