A waitress returns to the table after clearing dinner plates and stacking side dishes. She looks around and asks if anyone would like to see the dessert menu. Indistinguishable glances are exchanged across the table, as if no one was expecting to be asked such a question. Eventually someone steps up and says what everybody’s thinking: “Yes, of course we’d like to see what’s on the dessert menu.”
Starting next week, that question will be even easier to answer, because dessert proceeds at select Island restaurants will be donated to cancer research.
Bakes for Breast Cancer is a weeklong fundraiser where participating restaurants offer a special dessert or sweet from their menu, and sales from that menu item are donated. Garde East in Vineyard Haven, the Sweet Life Cafe in Oak Bluffs, and the Winnetu and Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown are the Island’s four participating restaurants. The fundraiser runs from June 4 to June 10.
“Through our partnerships with these establishments, we make it easy for anyone to contribute,” Bakes for Breast Cancer founder Carol Brownman Sneider said in a press release. “Simply purchase or order a sweet at one of more of our participating locations — it’s that easy.”
Bakes for Breast Cancer originated as a Boston-based fundraiser founded by Sneider in 2000. Her mother, Eva Brownman, lost her battle to breast cancer in 1973 at age 44. The annual Boston fundraiser takes place around Mother’s Day, but due to the Cape and Islands’ seasonality, they decided to wait to host the fundraiser in June. This is the third annual Cape and Islands Bakes for Breast Cancer.
“It’s such a sweet way to make a difference,” Susan Wheaton said. “It’s sweet, and it’s easy.”
Wheaton and her husband owned the Sweet Life Cafe until 2012, and they now live in Falmouth. When Bakes for Breast Cancer expanded to the Cape and Islands in 2016, Sneider asked Wheaton if she would help host the new charity branch. As a Falmouth resident with Island ties, Wheaton was the perfect fit.
According to the Bakes for Breast Cancer website, the Cape and Islands have a 20 percent higher incident rate of breast cancer than the national average.
“Supporting research for this indiscriminate disease is so important,” Sneider said in the release. “Further, with a decrease in federal funding, and the fact that young researchers are often overlooked for funding grants, our work is more important than ever.”
This year’s Bakes for Breast Cancer donations will support the research of Dr. Shom Goel, who is a breast cancer oncologist and physician-scientist. According to the Bakes for Breast Cancer website, his laboratory research is often inspired by his experiences with patients. His current work is focused on understanding how breast cancers are able to “hide” from the immune system. He works at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
The decided dessert at Garde East is the vanilla panna cotta. The Lighthouse Bar and Grill at the Harbor View Hotel is creating a special raspberry pavlova, and the Sweet Life Cafe will offer a special lemon poppyseed cake. The Dunes at the Winnetu will have its dessert special selected by this weekend.
For more information on Bakes for Breast Cancer, visit bakesforbreastcancer.org.