TAMPA — Nationally, the American Cancer Society said they are down $200 million because of COVID-19, and they are looking for businesses to team up with them and raise funds, no matter how big or small.
Even as businesses continue to dig themselves out of a COVID-19 hole, many are still making sure they help nonprofits struggling to get back to normal. One of those businesses is The Cake Girl in Tampa.
"I just think that little gestures like this help that mission of saying hey it might just be a cup with cake in it, but it has a bigger vision," Kirby Lavallee, who owns the business with his wife Kristina, said. "This cup right here brings stories hopefully some encouragement and then awareness."
A few months ago, Lavallee welcomed cancer survivor Ivy Peterson onto his team. He heard her story and was inspired to do something to help the American Cancer Society.
For every Crave' n Cups sold, the Cake Girl will donate a dollar to the American Cancer Society. Lavallee also said they plan to donate funds to cancer survivors in the community who have been impacted financially by the pandemic.
"Even if it is a dollar for every one of these that we sell, it's a great way to see we are giving back we are helping others, and one person that I can touch that might look over at me and say how did you do it, and I can offer one little bit of hope its all worth it," Peterson said.
It was Sept. 2001, right before the 9/11 terror attacks, Peterson said she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When the towers fell, she told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska she put her journey to health and survival on hold.
"When I recognized there was a problem, I pretended that it wasn't there, and by the time we got to take care of it, it had become a real big problem," Peterson said.
Like the pandemic today, many Americans are stressed, hurting financially, and putting their health and well-being second to a national crisis.
"The American Cancer Society and groups like this need our help small businesses need our help, so this type of work that we are doing allows us to join forces and be able to even in just a small way make a difference."
According to the American Cancer Society's information, they entered the fall, staring at a 50% reduction in their cancer research funding. That is the lowest annual total this century.
The impacts could be significant. The American Cancer Society is the nation's largest private nonprofit funder of cancer research.
"For us, cancer hasn't stopped, and neither will we," Josh Soto, the Community Development Manager for the American Cancer Society, said. "The support we are receiving from businesses like the Cake Girl can contribute to our critical supporting mission and funding for all of our services. For us, no funding is too small, so every dollar goes to our funding."
Soto said they are always looking for partnerships with small businesses.
"It's been a great way to see the community come to life and support us throughout the whole year," Soto said. "Every dollar they raise stays locally, so we are grateful for every dollar we get, and every partnership we get from a big corporation or small mom and pop shop every dollar counts every partnership counts."
Peterson hopes her story of survival will inspire others.