Girl raises more than $4K through bake sale after mom diagnosed with breast cancer

Olivia Ohlson started selling pink lemonade and pink ribbon cookies.

ByABC News
October 24, 2017, 9:50 AM

— -- When 10-year-old Olivia Ohlson learned that her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, she jumped at the chance to help.

Olivia, a fifth-grader from Evanston, Illinois, made pink lemonade and baked shortbread cookies with her grandmother to sell outside the family’s home.

“I always wanted to have a lemonade sale and when my mom got cancer I wanted to raise funds for women like her," Olivia told ABC News. "I thought that since I wanted to raise money, I could have a lemonade stand."

Olivia Ohlson, 10, holds a flier she made for a bake sale in her Evanston, Illinois, neighborhood to raise money for people affected by breast cancer.
Gini Ohlson

She also contacted local bakeries to ask that they donate cookies for her to sell in the shape of pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness.

Olivia Ohlson, 10, sells baked goods to a customer at a bake sale she held in her Evanston, Illinois, neighborhood.
Gini Ohlson

“It was very touching,” Gretchen Vetter of Tag’s Bakery in Evanston said. “I was very moved by it so I was more than willing to help.”

Olivia has raised $4,500 through one bake sale and online donations made by family, friends and strangers. She is holding a second bake sale next weekend.

Olivia Ohlson, 10, held a bake sale to raise money for people affected by breast cancer after her mother, Gini Ohlson, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Gini Ohlson

Olivia said her favorite part of the bake sale was interacting with her customers. She is donating her proceeds to Northshore Kellogg Cancer Center, where her mom, Gini Ohlson, is being treated for breast cancer.

"I know my mom has lots of family and friends who take care of her but other people don’t so they need more support," she said. "By giving Kellogg money they can use it ... for patients."

Olivia Ohlson, 10, poses with her mom, Gini Ohlson, before, left, and after Gini Ohlson lost her hair due to chemotherapy.
Gini Ohlson

Ohlson, 50, was diagnosed with breast cancer in both of her breasts in March. She underwent a double mastectomy in May and said she is halfway through 16 rounds of preventive chemotherapy.

Ohlson, the executive director of a nonprofit organization, may also need radiation in the future. Her early stage of breast cancer was diagnosed through her annual mammogram.

“My doctor told me that if I hadn’t had my mammogram, we wouldn’t have felt anything for a year to three years and I would have had a very different diagnosis,” she said. “That’s really given me a positive attitude.”

Ohlson described herself as “very proud” of Olivia, her only child. She said she is most impressed that Olivia did all of the hard, behind-the-scenes work that bake sales entail.

Olivia Ohlson, 10, made pink lemonade and asked bakeries do donate cookies in the shapes of pink ribbons to raise money for people affected by breast cancer.
Gini Ohlson

“She didn’t just go with the fun part,” Ohlson said. “She brought everything out, made the signs, did the display and had friends who came and helped her during the sale as well.”

The money donated by Olivia will “provide support and resources to assist breast cancer patients and family members with the many challenges they face during diagnosis, treatment and beyond,” a NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center spokeswoman told ABC News.

"It’s important for our breast cancer patients and their families to receive the support they need for every aspect of the cancer journey. The funds raised from Olivia's bake sale are going to do just that," the center's director, Dr. Bruce Brockstein, told ABC News in a statement. "My colleagues and I here at the NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center are so appreciative of Olivia's efforts to help our breast cancer patients. I hope that her efforts inspire others of all ages to support those who are going through cancer treatment."