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DUFF SHOWS GRIFFINS PRIDE

September 15, 2010

by Rachael Recker - The Grand Rapids Press - Photo Gallery


GRAND RAPIDS -- A birthday party is only as good as its cake. Hospice of Michigan made sure to get one of the best.

To celebrate 30 years, Hospice of Michigan's Foundation Board organized Wednesday's party featuring Food Network's Duff Goldman of "Ace of Cakes." Goldman revealed the colorful, multi-tier cake adorned with butterflies (symbolic of "transformation") and lotus flowers -- the national symbol for hospice care -- he custom-made for the event.

Share The boisterous, uncensored and chatty baker walked on stage at 7 p.m., donning a Griffins jersey embroidered with "Duff" and the number "10."

"What's up, Grand Rapids? You like it? I was going to wear my Brewers jersey, but they told me it would be a bad idea," said the Royal Oak-born reality TV star, who has garnered a devoted following by creating crazy, sometimes kinetic cakes, that often are replicas of household names such as Wrigley Field, the Stanley Cup and Elvis.

Goldman later pointed at the jersey and promised that it would make it into an "Ace of Cakes" episode."That means when I come back, I want tickets," he demanded.

Goldman talked about his day in Grand Rapids, raving about the beauty and perfect landscaping at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, where he eyed the Chihuly glass exhibit and felt the "carp kiss" of the Asian carp as he dipped his finger into a pond, prompting many young children to follow suit. The act prompted many parents to sarcastically thank him, he joked.

The "17-year-old at heart" also said the 600 attendees who turned out to the Hospice-fundraising book signing at Schuler Books & Music downtown on Tuesday were "amazing." Goldman signed books and dispensed hugs for two-and-a-half hours.

Cecile Fehsenfeld, co-owner of Schuler Books, was selling copies of Goldman's book, "Ace of Cakes Inside the World of Charm City Cakes," in DeVos Hall's lobby Wednesday evening. Each book came with a signed bookplate. Proceeds of the sales, like the tickets to Hospice's party, are being donated directly to Hospice of Michigan.

"This was a good opportunity for me to wear two hats," said Fehsenfeld, who is a Hospice Foundation board member of eight years. "It's a very special organization."

On Wednesday, Goldman displayed the personality that has about two million viewers tuning in every week to watch his show. He said it looks like his 21 employees are a bunch of friends because they are.

"You really got to treat your employees well. They're going in to work every day knowing I'll take a bullet for them," he said.

Hospice of Michigan began as the first hospice in the state, started by volunteers. Now equipped with more than 1,100 volunteers statewide, the non-profit continues to help terminally ill patients and their families regardless of age, diagnosis or ability to pay.

"A lot of patients we care for -- their costs go well beyond what we're reimbursed through insurance. And that's what the dollars from tonight's fundraiser help to pay for," said Marcie Hillary, vice president of community relations for Hospice of Michigan.

Wyoming residents Emily and Adam Vedra attended the event with their three children, Eleanor, 3, Seth, 5, and Noah, 8.

The couple has been receiving hospice's services for years. Eleanor has a terminal illness called leukodystrophy, which affects the brain and thus most motor functions. Wednesday also marked the anniversary of the death of the Vedras' daughter, Hannah, who passed away at 5 weeks old.

Eleanor, who was given until age 2 to live, continues to battle the disease.

"They've (Hospice) just been a huge blessing to us," Emily said. "This (party) is the kind of thing we need to remember things in a happy way. Fun events like this make good memories."



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