When you know what it’s like to have a life is marked by an incurable disease, it is easy to have a fundamentally different perspective on what is truly important than most others. I know this firsthand as the mother of a child with hemophilia. Through my son’s eyes, I have a profoundly more grounded understanding of compassion and gratitude.
So, when I heard about 11-year-old Daniela Delgado, a passionate baker from Stamford, Connecticut who donates beautiful homemade cakes to kids facing serious illness, it didn’t surprise me at all to learn that she, too, faces challenging medical obstacles in her life.
Delgado is the creator and owner of Daniela’s Little Wish, which will soon be a 503(c) nonprofit. For seven years, Daniela’s Little Wish has been working tirelessly to bring smiles to kids in serious need of cheering up. Delgado takes orders for cakes that cost upwards of $120 to create and can serve 15 to 20 guests. Each cake is painstakingly crafted for the child it is for, right down to the color, flavor, and theme. Then, despite the high cost of ingredients, materials, time, and transportation, Delgado and her family deliver the cake to the child.
“Money is not important,” Delgado shares with Babble. “The only thing that matters to me is the smile of the child who receives the cake. That is priceless.”
Delgado lives with von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) — which, if you’ve never heard of it, is a rare bleeding disorder that generally affects girls. To complicate this already incredibly expensive and life-changing diagnosis, Delgado also has Ehler Danlos, which is a group of genetic disorders that adversely affects the connective tissue in the human body such as skin, joints, and blood vessel walls, which can potentially complicate any bleeding disorder such as vWD.
As a kid with serious health issues, Delgado is intimately aware of what compassion and gratitude can mean to a person. This is why, for Delgado, reaching out to put a smile on another kid’s face, no matter how rough he or she has it, is the most important thing to her.
So, where does Delgado find the kids who have inspired her to bake for the last seven years?
“Sometimes the parents of the kids contact me through social media,” Delgado says. “But I also reach out to the parents and kids to see if they would like a smile brought to their faces!”
Delgado doesn’t ever seem to miss an opportunity to make sure her cakes reach the right home. She tells Babble that she has spotted kids at the supermarket in wheelchairs and has approached them to offer her service. She even reaches out to special needs schools.
“I ask if I can celebrate my birthday with them,” she says. “I bring a big cake or cupcakes, and nothing makes me happier than spending my day with these beautiful kids.”
However, baking cakes and founding a nonprofit at the age of 11 are not the only incredible things this inspiring young woman has accomplished. Delgado also advocates at the national level for the bleeding disorders community, of which my own family belongs.
Part of having a bleeding disorder means dealing with infusions to replace the missing factor in blood that helps to clot properly. Infusions, especially for young kids, can be scary — and so Delgado posts videos to social media in which she talks directly to other kids and shows them how she self-infuses.
“Because I am doing videos on how I self-infuse and I am posting about my bleeding disorder, I am advocating in Washington for rare diseases,” Delgado explains. “I am doing a few speeches in front of more than 300 people helping to raise more than 40K for the bleeding disorder community. I have the amazing opportunity to travel around the country and share my story with other kids or parents with different bleeding disorders and motivate them to get inspired — because even if you have a condition or illness you shouldn’t let that bring you down!”
Sometimes it takes an amazing kid like Daniela Delgado to remind the world that loving kindness and indefatigable optimism can truly make big and necessary changes toward progress.
Don’t listen to me, though. Listen to this whip-smart girl who, at 11, has basically figured out the hardest parts of life.
“You should live life to the max and do things for others!” says Delgado. “I hope that is what the adults and kids get out of this. Because out of something bad, there’s always a lesson to learn.”
I couldn’t agree more.