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Bensenville baker uses her cakes to help others

BENSENVILLE – The kitchen of the Butz home in Bensenville is different from that of Buddy Valastro’s in the TLC reality show “Cake Boss.”

There isn’t the slew of outlandish characters streaming in and out while Valastro creates his lavish cakes. But at the center of everything in the local cake shop is a 13-year-old girl making some epic treats of her own.

Trisha Butz, a seventh-grader at Blackhawk Middle School in Bensenville, dreams of one day owning her own bakery and loves to decorate cakes. Much of what she knows she learned from watching the show “Cake Boss,” but she operates on a much calmer level.

Two summers ago, Trisha launched Cakes for Cancer, a fundraising project to support her friend, Ashley Garza, who had cancer. Ashley died more than a year ago, but Trisha plans to continue the project this summer.

“I still wanted to do Cakes for Cancer. I didn’t want to only do it once,” she said.

Traditionally, Cakes for Cancer has taken up about a week of Trisha’s summer vacation each year. When she’s running the project, she wakes up early each morning to bake a cake, then spends several hours using fondant, frosting, icing and other items to create the decorations. Once complete, she sends a picture of the cake to her email contacts, and people place their bids throughout the day until 5 p.m.

During the first year, Trisha raised about $400 on her cakes that she gave to Ashley. The second year, Trisha gave the money she raised to Ashley’s parents. They, in turn, donated it to the Wellness Place in Palatine, a support center for cancer patients where Ashley went for art therapy.

Trisha said she probably will donate this year’s Cakes for Cancer proceeds to the Wellness Place again.

“That place is incredible,” she said. “They let people express themselves. It gets their minds off things.”

When she’s not baking for Cakes for Cancer, Trisha seems to be baking for every other occasion. She made a golf cake for her grandfather’s birthday party, a My Little Pony cake for her friend’s birthday, Ramada cupcakes for a friend celebrating the end of religious fasting and ladybug cupcakes just because she thought they’d be cute.

“I make cakes when people want me to,” she said. “Baking is one of the things I’m just naturally good at.”

Many of the people who see her cakes ask if she had help from her mother.

Trisha also has launched a business called Cakes Galore, which already has gained interest.

Her longterm goal is to attend the University of Notre Dame and get a degree in business. From there, she plans to open her own bakery.

Her ultimate dream is to be like Buddy Valastro.

Until then, Trisha will stay closer to home and continue baking as a way to help others.

“I thought it would be cool to show people that you can help, no matter what your age is,” she said. “Because [Ashley] was close to me, I wanted to help.”

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