Can you fight cancer with a cookie? How about 96,000 cookies?

Can you fight cancer with a cookie? How about 96,000 cookies?

That was the genesis for the nonprofit Cookies for Kids' Cancer, an initiative that was born when Gretchen Holt-Witt held a larger-than-life cookie fundraiser to bring in money for research into pediatric cancer, then realized she'd found a great way to galvanize people into joining the fight.

"I knew that I had to come up with something that was just so irresistible that people couldn't turn away," says Holt-Witt, author of the recently released, "Cookies for Kids' Cancer: Best Bake Sale Cookbook."

The story began in 2007, when Holt-Witt's young son, Liam, was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Shocked at the lack of treatment options and funding for the No. 1 disease killer of U.S. children, she decided to try to bake and sell cookies during the holidays to raise money for research while at the same time creating an engaging way to get people interested in the relatively low-profile disease that is, as she puts it, "the monster in the closet that you just don't want to think about."

She knew she could call on about 80 families fighting the same pediatric cancer as Liam and estimated each could sell about 100 dozen cookies to family and friends. Voila — 8,000 dozen — or 96,000 individual — cookies.

She turned to friend and recipe writer Sally Sampson for the best recipes for large-scale baking, found a helpful supplier and, not without a few challenges, found a commercial kitchen with the proper certification. More than 250 people, including friends-of-friends showed up, staying all hours to bake, cool, package and ship the cookies, which sold in a matter of days.

The result was an astonishing $420,000 raised.

There was no stopping after that. Holt-Witt and her husband, Larry, founded Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a national nonprofit that inspires people to host bake sales. The new book, (Wiley, $19.99) features nearly 70 bake-sale recipes from Sampson and others.