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Young Bakers Discover Sweet Rewards in Giving

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From left, Kayla Pacourek, Ellie Carlson, Maria Gonzales, Mackayla Reilley and Jamariea Dickenson follow their elders' example and raise money for MD Anderson through an event of their creation, Emy's Bake Sale. Photo by Lisa Carlson.

It’s known as “generational giving,” when one generation of a family is inspired to give by the philanthropic interests of another.

Such is the case with 11-year-old Ellie Carlson of Riverside, Ill. Ellie found inspiration in her grandmother, Beverly Parker of Dayton, Ohio. Each August, Beverly hosts the Robert A. Parker Olive Open Golf Tournament in memory of her husband, who was an MD Anderson patient.

“After Robert died of neuroendocrine carcinoma, my children came to me with the idea of having a golf tournament to honor their father,” explains Beverly. “They decided the money raised should support Robert’s physician at MD Anderson, Dr. James Yao, and his research on this type of cancer.”

While working by her grandmother’s side during the Olive Open each year, Ellie began to realize the importance of Beverly’s hard work and decided she wanted to raise money to support MD Anderson as well.

“I wanted to help out in some way,” says Ellie. “So my friends and I decided to have a bake sale.”

Ellie and her friend, Mackayla Reilley, used the first letters of their first names and named the fundraiser Emy’s Bake Sale. They baked and sold cupcakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and brownies. They held two bake sales, one in the winter and one in the spring, and raised $355.10 for MD Anderson.

Lisa Carlson, who is Ellie’s mom and Beverly’s daughter, says she’s so proud of her daughter and surprised that she thought of a bake sale on her own.

“My mother and I know how important it is to raise research dollars for MD Anderson,” says Lisa. “But we didn’t realize that Ellie had grown to realize this, too.”

While trying to decide where to donate the money she and her friends collected, Ellie heard about an annual snow ski trip for pediatric patients with MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital. The ski trip, sponsored by the Children’s Art Project, is part of a unique effort to help pediatric patients create a positive self-image.

As a young lady who loves to spend time on the ski slopes, Ellie knew right away where she wanted to direct her philanthropic support: helping kids have fun.

”And I hope someday when I have children,” adds Ellie, “I can teach them how important it is to give to something that helps other people.”

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center