ELMHURST – Edriss Alexis has played his signature blue acoustic guitar for patrons of the Courageous Bakery in Elmhurst a handful of times since February.
Less than a year after he first stepped into the bakery dedicated to raising funds and awareness for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Ride Janie Ride Foundation, Alexis wanted to say thank you to the bakery.
"I've gotten to know the people," Alexis said.
He approached bakery owner Laura Pekarik and offered to play a December concert and buy everyone whose birthday was the same day as the concert a cupcake.
"I was just thinking with the holidays coming…I figured I would reach out to her and her customers," said Alexis, a Park Forest musician.
Pekarik appreciated Alexis' offer, but decided to take it one step further and offer everyone with a December birthday a cupcake on the house Saturday, the day of Alexis performance.
"I think it was a great gesture to offer to pay for the cupcakes," Pekarik said.
She started Cupcakes for Courage after he sister, Kathryn, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin T-cell lymphoma in 2010. After baking cupcakes for a benefit in her sister's name, Pekarik saw the popularity of her little desserts and decided to put them to work.
The Cupcakes for Courage food truck, also dubbed the green machine, hit the streets of Chicago in 2011, and the Courageous Bakery store front opened in Sept. 2012.
"We do what we can," Pekarik said about the bakery's efforts to engage the community through artists like Alexis or story book readings or other events.
When Alexis first started learning guitar, he memorized the order of the strings with the phrase "Edriss Alexis Does Good By Everyone," but it's more than a mnemonic device. The phrase reflects Alexis' desire to show appreciation for the opportunity to play at Courageous Bakery.
"They've just been great," Alexis said of the bakery employees and patrons.
A huge fan of 1970s music, Alexis plans to play a combination of Christmas music and chart toppers from Dec. 21 in the 1970s on his royal blue guitar.
Pekarik likes the idea of birthday cupcakes and thinks she'll continue it in some way from now on. She simply likes the idea of bringing people a little piece of frosted joy during the busy and cold holiday season.
"I'm not looking to get recognition," Pekarik said of Saturday's event. "It's more for the people."
If you go
What: Free acoustic performance featuring complimentary cupcakes for people with December birthdays
Where: Courageous Bakery, 108 W. Park Ave.
When: Concert from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday; bakery hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.