Donkey cake gets a smile from birthday boy

By Rebecca Malcolm

Twenty hours, more than 6kg of chocolate ganache, a tray of eggs - and one spectacular cake for a special boy.

The massive 20kg cake, based on the donkey from the movie Shrek, was created by Jo Orr for Josh Coleman's 13th birthday as part of Operation Sugar - a New Zealand wide, non-profit group which provides free custom birthday cakes to seriously ill children, and those who require frequent hospitalisation.

Josh is in remission after being diagnosed with a medulloblastoma tumour - a cancerous tumour on his brain. During his treatment, which involved surgery, extensive radiation and chemotherapy, he watched Shrek - repeatedly.

Mrs Orr said because of the special recipient it was the first cake she'd really got emotionally attached to.

Valued at about $1000, Mrs Orr said Josh's reaction when he saw the cake was what made the early starts and hard work worth it.

He was speechless when he saw it and couldn't wait to show it off to his friends, although wasn't entirely sure he wanted to eat it.

It's a common complaint for Mrs Orr - who has been creating things out of sugar since she was a child.

She qualified as a pastry chef and has also taught herself various techniques along the way.

"I'm constantly learning. It's an expensive hobby."

Surprisingly, Mrs Orr said she couldn't draw a stick figure to save herself and was told by a high school art teacher she should never be an artist.

"I think in 3D."

Mrs Orr, who runs Ciccio Cakes, said she was thrilled to be involved in Operation Sugar and said it was a great way to help givesick children something to smile about. "It's not all doom and gloom - you've got to have some hope and sugar is such a great way of doing that."

Josh's mother, Donna, said the organisation was awesome.

They found out about it after a friend of Josh's received a cake from them in a different part of the country.

She said that while Josh had been cancer-free for several years, he still needed daily growth hormone injections and thyroid medication to help with his growth after the treatment affected his pituitary gland.

He also has yearly MRI scans for monitoring and has some lasting affects from the treatment like hearing loss in one ear and some memory retention problems.

Operation Sugar organiser Rachel Jenkinson said the organisation was still in its infancy since starting last September.

She said they would love to hear from more people who wanted to volunteer - including bakers and photographers to capture the celebrations - as well as families who might be worthy recipients.

To find out more about Operation Sugar visit their website or contact them through Facebook.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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