Thursday, February 26, 2009

Community Cupcakes Fundraiser

If you have lived in this area for a few years, chances are you remember the tragic death of 12 year old Luke Carter-Schelp back in November 2006. Luke slipped on some leaves while crossing Strathmore Avenue in Garrett Park and was struck by an oncoming van.
To celebrate his life, every year Luke's mother, Val, hosts a fundraiser event that involves, you guessed it, cupcakes. Check out the story from the Metro section in today's Washintgon Post:
Every year on Luke's birthday, Val organizes an event she thinks he would have liked. On Saturday at Walter Johnson High School -- the Bethesda school where Luke would have been a freshman this year -- 11 middle and high school groups will compete at a battle of the bands fundraiser.
"For me it's been a really good way to think about Luke's birthday without thinking, 'Oh, God, he's not here,' " Val said. "On Saturday, if I weren't doing this, what would I be doing? It's Luke's 15th birthday. I could go climb a mountain, but why not spend it with a bunch of people doing something else?"
And doing something good. The event will raise money for Hungry for Music, a nonprofit group that provides musical instruments to needy kids. In the past, Luke's friends have done other charity work in his name, including collecting sneakers to be ground into playground surfaces. Because the events always include a cupcake for everyone, Val calls her group Community Cupcakes.
To understand why, you have to go back to a week before Luke died. It was Election Day, and Val had dragged Luke out of bed to take him to the polls, where she was volunteering with True Vote MD.
"I was forcing him to go," she said, "telling him, 'It's important. We live in a democracy. We have to do our part.' "
Luke was having none of it. He raged against the fundamental unfairness of being a 12-year-old snatched from bed on a day off. Then they came around the corner and he saw the hustle and bustle around the elementary school. "He said -- I'll never forget this -- he said, 'Well, I'll volunteer if they have cupcakes.' I was crawling on the sidewalk, I was laughing so hard."
What kid doesn't like a little bribery?
Val, 45, is a physical therapist for the early intervention program in Montgomery public schools. I know her from my church, where the energy with which she throws herself into social justice issues is legendary. For Saturday's event, an army of bakers will help her ensure that every person receives one of the aforementioned cupcakes.

Family Photo of Luke, From the Washington Post
So if you are in town this weekend and would like to donate to a good cause, then head on over to Walter Johnson High School and enjoy the bands (and a cupcake!) Bands competing Saturday include Metrophish, Those Guys, Trees Have Cars and Danger. Admission is $5, and attendees are invited to donate used musical instruments. For more information on the event and the bands, visit

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