Cakes for a cause

In August 2008, Angela, 14, was riding a Magic Springs roller coaster when the car’s roller bar squeezed her abdomen, causing an unusual amount of pain. The roller bar had ruptured an undiscovered 5-pound tumor on Angela’s left ovary. If not for that roller-coaster ride, Angela’s tumor might have been discovered too late.

“When I first found out, I was angry and upset,” Angela said. “Now I’m just dealing with it.”

Unfortunately, the rupture sprayed cancer cells into other parts of Angela’s body despite surgery that successfully removed the tumor. She underwent three rounds of chemotherapy designed specifically for breast and ovarian cancer, and thought she had it licked, but the cancer returned in June as nodules on the scar tissue. She has since undergone four rounds of stronger chemotherapy. This is the first time Arkansas Children’s Hospital has used this still experimental chemotherapy.

Angela sports a wide smile underneath a fuzz-covered head. She has opted not to wear a wig. “It doesn’t go with my personality,” she said. “I’m more than my hair.”

The struggle “has brought me closer to my friends and family,” she added. “It has made me stronger and brought me closer to God.”

Angela is a ninth-grader at Vilonia High School. So when the VHS cheerleaders were urged at a University of Central Arkansas cheerleading camp to “serve others,” they decided Angela was one of the others they wanted to help.

Jerry is the other person they wanted to help. A member of the Vilonia School District’s Board of Education for 20 years, he is an avid supporter of everything school-related.

“Jerry’s always there for his kids,” said Judy Hawks, VHS cheerleader coach. “He comes to every single athletic event.”

Jerry has a rare form of leukemia called myelofibrosis that attacks only two in a million people. There is no cure, but there is an experimental drug that slows the progress of the disease. Jerry travels to Houston, Texas, several times a year to undergo chemo so that he can live until a cure is found. He has been undergoing chemotherapy for over a year, and because it affects the production of hemoglobin in his blood, Jerry has had numerous transfusions.

“I’ve gotten to witness to a lot of people,” Jerry said about the plus side of his struggle. “At Houston I see a lot of younger people.”

Because Angela is a member of the VHS volleyball team, the cheerleaders elicited the team’s help to put on a benefit for Angela and Jerry. Cakes for a Cause, held Nov. 14 in the VHS cafeteria, raised $3,000 to help Angela and Jerry.

Forty-two Vilonia businesses contributed items for the silent auction that was held in conjunction with the bake-off.
Forty-six people baked cakes for attendees to taste. First-, second- and third-place ribbons were given in four divisions – amateur, semi-professional, professional and from-scratch – as well as a grand prize, which went to Kim Fulmer for her chocolate Bundt cake adorned with chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Among the 12 other winners were Karla Ault, Angela’s volleyball coach, who took third in the semi-professional division; Angela’s grandmother, Alice Day, who took second in the from-scratch division; and her great-aunt, Ada Sanderson, who took third for a from-scratch angel-food cake.

“I picked angel-food because of Angela’s name,” Ada said. “I thought it fit.”