The Sophie Fund collaborated with Cornell Minds Matter to host the first annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest in the Commons Saturday to raise both awareness and funds for local mental health initiatives.
The Sophie Fund was created earlier this year to honor Sophie MacLeod ’14, who died by suicide while on a leave of absence from Cornell. Sophie’s father and the fund’s donor advisor Scott MacLeod said the contest is a way to pay tribute to Sophie, who loved to bake.
The contest is open to any amateur bakers, and the prizes — including gift certificates and a baking basket — are supplied by GreenStar Natural Foods Market, according to MacLeod.
MacLeod said planning for the event began in mid-July. He explained that the contest is meant to be a “fun event” that would not be “drumming these heavy topics at people.”
“[We wanted] an event that would just celebrate life … that is all in the name of raising money and raising awareness for serious issues like mental health,” he said.
The event was scheduled for October to increase participation from college students, MacLeod said.
“That’s the time of year that college students are coming back to Ithaca, coming back to campus,” he said. “And we’re hoping that this kind of an event would be something that people hear about in September, would get involved in in October, and it’s an issue and topic that they might carry throughout the school year with them.”
Casey Carr, associate dean of students and advisor of Cornell Minds Matter, said the organization decided to co-sponsor the event to “raise awareness about suicide prevention and about importance of self-care and getting treatment.”
“There is a lot of stigma about coming forward and admitting you have a mental illness and need counseling,” she said. “Depression is one of the most treatable illnesses. The more we can have an open dialogue about mental health, mental illness and suicide prevention, the easier it’s going to be for people to get the help they need.”
MacLeod said he believes the event will be a success, regardless of the number of contest entries.
“We’re going to have the pavilion in the Commons all day Saturday, so people are going to be coming by, seeing what we’re doing, hearing about Sophie’s Fund, hearing about Sophie and so forth, so to me, the event is already a success with all the interest that we’ve gotten,” he said.
The contest coincides with Cornell’s second annual Mental Health Awareness Week, which features a variety of events starting today and ending Saturday.