• Gianna

#47 "Tracy became one of Those Helpers"

Grounds of Change interviewee #47 is Tracy Quisenberry. She is the founder of the organization, Icing Smiles (, that creates custom celebration cakes for families with critically ill children.

As a high schooler, Tracy was motivated and very focused on the future. She played sports but did not think she was very good. She emphasized how not being one of the star players built her into the person she is today. It taught Tracy the importance of teamwork. Her basketball and field hockey teams would win but not just because of the best players, they would win when they worked together – each member doing their part.

After high school, Tracy attended Penn State University. Tracy was a part of Dance Marathon (THON). THON is a year-long awareness campaign at Penn State which ends with a 46-hour dance marathon that engages students in raising money for families affected by childhood cancer. Again, each member played a part. In addition to the team aspect, THON is where Tracy was first introduced to children who were critically ill, and she was moved by their resilience and strength.

She graduated, worked successfully in the accounting field, and then started a family with her husband which came with some challenges. Tracy’s daughter was born six weeks before her due date and was admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Then, her son was also born prematurely and continued to have significant health concerns through his first three years of life. While caring for her children's needs, Tracy began to really appreciate preparing homemade gestures of kindness and creativity – most notably, making a special cake for her children on their birthday.

This creating one-of-a-kind cakes for her children led Tracy to another team. She joined the group of people that surround children with serious medical conditions. That team consists of the doctors, the nurses, the child life specialists, the parents, the funders, the researchers, and the other helpers. The helpers are people that dedicate themselves to giving these children the fun they deserve. From the princesses coming into hospitals, to wish granters, to wig makers, Tracey became one of those helpers. 

She founded her organization, Icing Smiles, which provides extravagant cakes to critically sick children. It creates sugar rushes, smiles and happy memories for each child and their families. It really is so much more than a cake. In January, Tracy invited me to attend an Icing Smiles birthday celebration where I saw first hand the impact they are making. How about these numbers: 21,000 cakes going to all 50 states!!  

So, what can we learn from Tracy? Every single one of us has a purpose and a team waiting for us. She mentioned to me that up until she founded Icing Smiles, she didn’t feel a sense of purpose. She was forty years old when she joined the team that she had been training for her entire life. She compared each one of our lives to a different puzzle piece - there is a specific reason we were placed here on Earth. We all fit somewhere perfectly - keep searching for yours!

Maybe right now the team you’re used to playing on is on hold. Tracy’s life has been made up of many different teams. There’s probably a position waiting for you right now- go find where you fit into the COVID-19 puzzle and help someone else. 

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