Helping out a sweet cause: Kids will hold fundraiser to end childhood hunger

Kaitlyn Burgess, 8, tries her hand at baking during a special summer camp program for young adults this year at Candyland Designs in Kissimmee. The local business is sponsoring a special Kids’ Cupcake Competition fundraiser this weekend.

A fundraiser sponsored by a downtown Kissimmee merchant this Saturday is set to feature a sweet mix of cupcakes, kids and creativity.

And for the icing on top, all proceeds from the special Kids’ Cupcake Competition will benefit a nonprofit campaign aimed at ending childhood hunger in America.

The competition is a fun chance for young bakers to show off their skills to a panel of judges while earning bragging rights and cooking gear along the way.

“It’s a great way for kids to help kids,” said Leia Perez, owner of custom cake shop Candyland Designs on Broadway in Kissimmee. “It’s also something fun for people in the community to check out and participate in.”

Perez is the accountant-turned-entrepreneur cake artist who opened Candyland Designs with her husband earlier this year. The true mom-and-pop shop hosted a week-long summer bake camp for young adults since opening, along with weekend classes to spark interest in aspiring pastry chefs.

As a self-taught cake artist, Perez said she wants to encourage a love of baking and decorating in others, regardless of age.

A few months ago, Perez had an idea to combine a few of her biggest passions – baking, teaching others and giving back into a single event – into this weekend’s Kids Cupcake Competition.

“I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great for these kids to use their skills and do something amazing with it for their peers,” Perez said.  “It will give them experience at an early age of giving back to others, a habit they hopefully keep as they get older and become adults.”

The young participants will bake 100 to 120 mini-cupcakes prior to the event and bring them to the community center Saturday afternoon. The bakers will have time to decorate their creations before sending their treats to the judges’ table.

To increase community participation, anyone who purchases admission to Saturday’s event also gets to serve as a judge, with their ticket doubling as a vote cast for their favorite young baker.

Each participating baker is evaluated on taste, decoration and presentation, with prizes awarded for first, second and third place. Prize packages are valued at $1,000 and include winnings such as bowling and Crayola Experience tickets. All participants will go home with a basket of baking goods sponsored by companies like Betty Crocker.

Six bakers are already registered, but Perez said she’d like to get three or four more youngsters between the ages of 7 and 13 signed up before Saturday. Registration is $50 a child, but there is still a free sponsorship spot available thanks to Kissimmee Main Street, who worked with local merchants to waive registration fees for four kids.

All proceeds from ticket sales and registration will benefit No Kid Hungry, a national fundraising campaign that encourages people to host bake sales that raise money and awareness for childhood hunger. Locally, No Kid Hungry donates to groups that provide students with breakfast, after school and summer meals.

The Kids’ Cupcake Competition takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the United Methodist Church Community Center at 101 Dakin St.

To register or purchase tickets for the competition, visit and click on “Events.”  

For more information, call Candyland Designs at 407-906-5582. Registration closes end of business Friday.