In 2007 Gretchen Holt Witt, ’89 and her husband Larry learned that their precious two year old son Liam had a deadly form of pediatric cancer. Their son, Liam was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma: a type of cancer that merely 30% of children survive. Stunned and frightened, they began to fight for Liam in every way possible. Along the way, they were shocked to find out that pediatric cancer is the leading cause of death by disease for children under the age of 18 yet is severely underfunded. In December 2007, Gretchen and Larry founded Cookies For Kids’ Cancer, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research. Their secondary goal: to make the letter ‘c’ mean ‘cookies’ – not ‘cancer’.
Cookies For Kids’ Cancer has been able to raise over 2.5 million dollars since its humble beginnings in 2007. The organization has caught the attention of superstars such as Oprah Winfrey and Joan Cusack. They have even been featured on Live with Regis and Kelly, Good Morning America, CNN.com and in numerous publications such as the Washington Post, Parents, O, and Good Housekeeping. All the while, behind the scenes Liam Witt continued his own battle against cancer. In May of last year, Gretchen returned to Meredith College to deliver the Commencement speech to the class of 2010. The Meredith College community was both honored and privileged to have their own real-life hero standing before them. Her poignant speech inspired Meredith’s graduates to make a change in the world and to remain faithful and diligent no matter what the odds may be.
Sadly, on January 24th Liam lost his hard-fought battle with Neuroblastoma. His parents wrote, “Our dearest Prince could simply fight no more as his enemy had grown in size and strength. He fought fearlessly and relentlessly for 4 years… Our heart is broken and with it the ability to rationalize the rush of feelings that surround us.” Prince Liam’s service took place on February 14th in New York City at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. During the service, Gretchen spoke about the legacy that her son left behind, “When I think about my son, his life, his legacy and what he taught others, the message is clear: it was love. He lived his life with love as his true north. Love for people, love for knowledge, love for living, love for life. He truly lived to love.”
At the young age of six years old, Liam was somehow able to spark a revolution. He has taught us how to live each day to its fullest, how to laugh and smile in the face of danger, how simple it is to make a difference and most importantly how to live a life full of love. We post this story today in honor of our brave Prince Liam and our hero Gretchen Holt Witt. We hope that you will be inspired to make a difference and change the world…one cookie at a time…
For more information on Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here.