Dana is a 9-year-old resident of Boulder and an Elevations Business Banking member. She loves acting, singing, Irish dance, drawing and coding. And she started a nonprofit that has raised over $100,000 for research into rare childhood diseases. She is one of our many Elevations members with a passion for her community and a drive to make a difference.
The Cookies4Cures Story
Cookies4Cures started when Dana’s friend Mila was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Batten. Mila needed a new experimental treatment for Batten, and to help her family raise the money required, Dana decided to sell cookies. Dana, who was 7 at the time, and her mom Alexis started baking. Dana was shy during Cookie Pop-Ups at first but gained confidence and now loves talking with folks interested in getting cookies. How much do cookies cost?
“Take what you want and leave what makes your heart feel good,”says Dana.
When Cookies4Cures wanted to extend their message outside of Boulder, they created a GoFundMe with a conservative goal of a few thousand dollars that quickly grew as Cookies4Cures took off. In the end, they raised over $56,000 for Batten research. But Dana wasn’t done.
Dana’s friend Ollie was diagnosed with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). He received the available treatments, but they were not effective for him. “For most of these kids, the treatments they need aren’t available yet. This is why we chose research; it has to be research,” said Alexis. Cookies4Cures created a new GoFundMe for PANS research, and they have currently raised $39,000 of their $45,000 goal.
Cookies4Cures raises money for other medical research, as well. Families reach out to them for support, and they help when they can through fundraisers. There are many diseases without adequate treatments, and research needs to be done to find them. “Science-based funding is our mission,” said Dana. “We focus on science.”
Through Cookie Pop-Ups, red wagon sales door to door and GoFundMe orders, Cookies4Cures is impacting not just the kids who will benefit from new research, but the community of people around Dana who help make her mission possible.
When Dana started Cookies4Cures, her class donated 100 pounds of flour, sugar and chocolate chips, and she had friends join her for wagon sales. Her community of helpers snowballed when they received their first big order of 1,000 cookies for Colorado Pet Pantry. Dana and Alexis asked anyone willing to join them to bake and help box the cookies. The group grew from family, friends and teachers to a team of 70 volunteers today. These volunteers offer their time, supplies and kitchens to help bake cookies.
Elevations & Cookies4Cures
This year, Cookies4Cures opened a business banking account at Elevations. They put a call out on social media asking for recommendations and heard from their friends: Elevations is kind to nonprofits. With their account, they can easily deposit donations and get funds out to their research partners. Dana and Alexis also have access to convenient branch locations around Boulder and the friendly credit union team. Plus, Cookies4Cures Founder Dana loves the free lollipops in the lobby!
What Does 2020 Hold?
To date, Cookies4Cures has baked over 12,000 cookies to help fund research for treatments, and they don’t plan on slowing down. In 2020, Cookies4Cures is focusing on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). “SMA is a rare disease where your muscles get weak. Our friend Ben has it,” said Dana. Cookies4Cures is committed to raising $50,000 for CureSMA, which is half of a $100,000 research grant that will fund a project to target older teens with SMA. “Our friend Ben is 16, so this is our focus to help him and teens like him,” said Alexis.
In 2020, Dana would also like to find more partners willing to donate baking supplies to take some of that responsibility off her family volunteers and her mom. Cookies4Cures is looking for new opportunities for Cookie Pop-Ups at local events and markets.
This nonprofit model works, and Dana hopes she can teach more kids in other communities her model so they too can raise money for research.
We caught up with our favorite cookie baking fifth grader and Elevations business banking member, Dana, to see what Cookies4Cures has been able to accomplish in 2020. In 2020, Cookies4Cures focused on Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) along with three other campaigns.
“SMA is a rare disease where your muscles get weak. Our friend Ben has it,” said Dana.
Cookies4cures is committed to raising $50,000 for CureSMA,which is half of a $100,000 research grant that will fund a project to target older teens with SMA. Currently, Cookies4SMA has raised nearly $14,000.
“Our friend Ben is 16, so this is our focus to help him and teens like him,” said Alexis.
Dana raised over $56,000 for her friend Mila who has Batten Disease. It’s because of Mila that Dana founded Cookies4Cures on her seventh birthday. Dana went to sing for Mila on her birthday last month. Mila’s mom connected Dana with Sophie, a 3-year-old in Boulder who has Multicentric Carpotarsal Osteolysis (MCTO).
“She has a rare disease that makes her bones dissolve, and only 30 people in the world have it,” said Dana. “She’s the little sister that I never had.”
In 2020, Cookies4Cures has grown to include over 100 volunteers who have baked almost 20,000 cookies and raised over $100,000 for research into five rare pediatric diseases — and counting! Dana isn’t slowing down, even with 2020 being the year it has been. She found creative ways to keep things moving with outside socially distanced cookie pop-ups, making masks for a time and growing her network. We look forward to continuing to support Dana on her organization’s fantastic journey.