“Instead of being a foundation that asked for money I decided to sell these amazing chocolate chip cookies to raise money."
VALLEY COTTAGE, N.Y. - Eight years ago, Frank Squeo was diagnosed with advanced Stage 3 testicular cancer that was quickly approaching his brain. After three months of aggressive chemotherapy Squeo beat the disease and is cancer-free today.
“That being said, things in life happen for a reason,” the Valley Cottage resident said. And he came away from the experience determined to do something more with his survival and make a difference in peoples lives.
Baking Memories 4 Kids is approaching it’s fourth season of baking holiday cookies with a special purpose. The charitable foundation uses the sales proceeds from Squeo’s homemade cookies to send children with life threatening or terminal diseases on one-week family trips to an amusement park of their choice.
Disney World. Universal Studios. Seaworld. Wherever they choose to go, Baking Memories 4 Kids covers the lodging, airfare, food, transportation, and park passes.
“Instead of being a foundation that asked for money I decided to sell these amazing chocolate chip cookies to raise money,” Squeo said.
In the last three years the foundation has sold 600,000 cookies or 20,000 pound-and-a-quarter containers.
“That being said, things in life happen for a reason."
Without giving too much away about his recipe Squeo said the cookies have no preservatives in them, brown sugar, and a very special chocolate chip he’s sourced.
The operation relies on the help of over 600 volunteers from the area who team up to bake cookies in the fall at the Rockland BOCES facility in West Nyack, and at Squeo’s home where the basement is set up to process the orders.
When it hits Nov. 1, cookies start being shipped and Squeo starts traveling around the country to present these trips to families.
Most children are referred to the website and anyone can nominate a family or a child, although Squeo has reached out to families on occasion. Every family that has been nominated and qualified either have gone or will be going on their own trip. To date, that accounts for 23 families.
“It’s pure joy,” Squeo said, when the children find out they’re going. Some are so ill they cannot fully comprehend what is happening.
“What it means to the parents, the grandparents, the relatives is so powerful because they know what this means,” he said.
He added that parents not only understand the gravity of the situation but that this trip is also a memory of a lifetime; a memory of their child having fun and not going through treatments.
“These cookies are a way to create everlasting memories,” he said.