How Sweet It Is

“When I was in second grade, I heard about people with cancer and I just wanted to help them,” says Paige Miller.

That simplistic yet surprisingly strong motivation led to Paige’s Cupcakes for Cancer. This year Miller, 9, raised $3,650 for cancer patients at Deaconess Hospital.

“She started out digging up little seeds on the playground to grow plants to sell, to make money for people with cancer,” says Crystal Miller, Paige’s mother who works at Caze Elementary School as a kindergarten assistant. “We explained that she was actually digging up weeds and that wouldn’t work. Then she thought she was going to make makeup and we had to tell her that wasn’t going to work; there’s a lot more to that. And then she said, ‘Fine, if you’re not going to take me, I’m just going to walk the money to the hospital myself.’”

That was when Crystal and her husband, Mike, director of table games at Tropicana Evansville, knew Paige was serious. When Crystal put a status on her Facebook about how much Paige wanted to help, a friend commented, and the idea of baking cupcakes was born.

Crystal created the Paige’s Cupcakes for Cancer Facebook page and Paige, with help from her family, started baking vanilla cupcakes from scratch complete with pink, strawberry-flavored icing to sell for $20 per dozen.

“When we first started this, we thought this will just be a cute little thing and family and friends will order,” says Crystal. “We were expecting maybe 20 dozen (orders). And the first year (2012) she raised $1,200. Last year, her goal was to double that and she ended up tripling it.”

Paige’s giving spirit even has caught on at Caze Elementary School, where Paige is a fifth-grade student.

In May, teachers and staff stayed one night four hours after school to help bake cupcakes, something Crystal refers to as the “baking blitz,” meaning 50 dozen cupcakes were made in one night.

“We wanted the students’ help because they wanted to help, too, so each cupcake was $1 when they ate lunch,” adds Paige.

Those cupcake sales during lunch raised $225. Teachers also can purchase a Paige’s Cupcakes for Cancer T-shirt and wear them on the first school day in May, helping raise awareness.

The community’s awareness of Paige’s charity work also has increased. Paige received two nominations for the 2014 Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program award, which is a chance at a $10,000 scholarship.

She won the Sam Featherstone Youth Award through Leadership Evansville at the 2013 Celebration of Leadership awards, and was asked to return this year as a presenter. She was given the 2013 Pam Rausch Spirit Award from Deaconess Hospital, the T-Green Perseverance Award from the Evansville Area Council PTA, and the Indianapolis Colts honored her with the team’s 2013 Student All-Star Award, giving her $500 to help with the project this year.

At the end of May, Paige presented a large cardboard check to the Deaconess Foundation for the entire profit amount. The only thing she keeps is the cardboard check afterward and a feeling of “excited happiness.”

Paige and her family plan on continuing the cupcake charity next May.

“Every little bit helps,” says Crystal. “Even if they can’t give money, they can always do something to help someone. It doesn’t matter the age, anyone can help somebody.”

For more information about Paige’s Cupcakes for Cancer, visit its Facebook page.

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