I am Frank Squeo, businessman, philanthropist, cancer survivor and founder of Baking Memories 4 Kids.
In 2007, while vacationing with a friend, I noticed a lump in my neck -in a dizzying flash – I went from my friend’s company and comfort to the uncertainty of a doctor’s office. Thus began months of appointments, consultations, biopsies, and near-crippling worry. When my doctors surgically removed the lump, they discovered I had an advanced form of testicular cancer – one that was days away from entering my brain.
For the next 3 months, I endured the pain and discomfort of chemo, during which I was blessed to have an amazing group of doctors, the love and support of my friends and family and the memories of all I had experienced and the hope of the adventures yet to come.
My treatment made me aware of the many people – the many children – that had prognoses far worse than my own. Children who have spent most of their young lives within these very walls with little to no memory of life without sickness. I could see first- hand the toll that their diagnosis had on their small bodies and the lives of their loved ones. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and my experience with cancer changed my life forever in more ways than I could have imagined.
Throughout my life, I have always supported children in need whether through sponsoring companies helping children who are sick or impoverished or ministries looking after children orphaned and alone. But as I witnessed these children’s struggles, and I looked into their exhausted eyes, I knew that my cancer was for a reason. It is ironic, what I had thought was the worst possible outcome of being diagnosed with cancer, turned into the most amazing gift of knowing my destiny.
In 2012, cancer free, I created Baking Memories 4 Kids. By selling the same chocolate chip cookies I have given as gifts to my customers for years, Baking Memories 4 Kids is able to send children with life threatening or terminal illnesses and their families on all expense paid, week long vacations to all the Florida theme parks. I know that these vacations will never erase the ordeals that these families have endured, but maybe for just a moment they will be able to put aside those thoughts and focus on the joy of living and create some positive memories like those that sustained me through my own cancer battle.
I invite you to come along with me on this amazing journey and become a Memory Maker for those desperate to have something to look forward to. Together, we can create memories one cookie at a time.
Baking Memories 4 Kids was established in 2012 as the brain child of Frank Squeo. With the help of those closest to him, Frank conceived, designed, and financed the foundation from its very conception. By the summer of 2013, without yet selling one cookie, Baking Memories 4 Kids sent our first family to Orlando, Florida and Frank’s mission had its first of many milestones. Each year, as the mission of Baking Memories spreads we are introduced to more and more amazing children. In 2017 alone, we surprised over 40 families from all across the country.
In the fall of 2013, Baking Memories 4 Kids had its first selling season. With the help of BOCES of Rockland, Frank rallied over 100 volunteers who baked, packaged and shipped over 2000 containers of cookies. Today with container sales of over 10,000 a year, Baking Memories 4 Kids has outsourced a portion of the production of Frank’s recipe, but we continue to utilize 100’s of volunteers in the packaging and shipping processes. And to keep with tradition, Frank and our Memory Makers still go into the BOCES kitchens at least one weekend a year to make the final batches for the season.
Baking Memories 4 Kids owes its success largely to the amazing corporate relationships we established in our very first year. In 2013, Baking Memories 4 Kids was introduced to two of our most valued partners, ICS & Panera Blue Ridge Bread, who, through our corporate gifting program and their fundraising efforts, have sponsored many families all on their own. Their continued sponsorship is propelling us in directions far surpassing Frank’s initial vision.
As Baking Memories 4 Kids continues to grow, more and more people are falling in love with our message. From the local media outlets that cover our special family surprises to the Today show who did a feature in 2014 and the Rachael Ray Show in 2016, we are receiving such a warm reception from individuals and corporations alike. In 2015, Frank and Baking Memories 4 Kids were honored by The NY Yankees during their HOPE week celebration, providing us the opportunity to surprise a family live on the field of a professional sports team, which we did again with the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders in 2016.
As much as the foundation’s history is about Frank and all our wonderful Memory Makers, the real inspiration has been our Cookie Kids. The families we have met and their stories are at the core of our mission. It’s their bravery and perseverance that truly inspires every one of us. As we are quickly approaching our 100th surprised family, being able to see the impact that Baking Memories 4 Kids has on these special children and their loved ones, motivates us to continue growing and creating more milestones and memories for years to come.