Four years ago, Sandy Rosales, a customer service manager at Milwaukee-based medical device manufacturer Mortara Instrument Inc., was browsing the Internet for cake ideas.
She had been baking cakes as a hobby for a few years and found it was a good creative outlet.
Then she stumbled upon the website for Icing Smiles Inc., a Maryland-based nonprofit that provides custom-made cakes and treats to the families of critically-ill children. Her hobby became a mission.
“I started reading the stories of the families they were providing cakes to,” Rosales said. “And that was it. I decided that was something I wanted to do.”
She’s been baking ornate and sometimes massive cakes for families battling terminal illness who are in need of a temporary escape ever since.
Rosales loves baking cakes. But, it’s not relaxing, she said. In fact, she described her hobby of the past four years as incredibly messy and consuming.
“I get very wrapped up in it,” she said. And that’s what she likes about it.
“I’m able to get out all this stuff that’s in my head and I get to use my hands,” she said. “It gives me an opportunity to release anything creative that I have or any frustrations that I have. It’s the perfect outlet for me.”
She’s baked Angry Birds-, Mickey Mouse- and stars-and-stripes-themed cakes for families celebrating birthdays and holidays in the hospital.
“I think it’s a fantastic organization, because you get to give these families and these kids a little bit of a relief from what they’re going through,” she said. “I have young children, and that feeling you get when they’re happy and smiling, you can’t put a price tag on that.”