ITHACA, N.Y. –– The Sophie Fund, a local not-for-profit that focuses on suicide prevention efforts, is adapting to the coronavirus pandemic for their annual cupcake baking fundraiser benefiting the Village at Ithaca by holding it as an online event this year.

The Sophie Fund, which was established in 2016 in memory of Cornell University art student Sophie Hack MacLeod, honors Sophie’s passion for baking –– at the time of her death by suicide at age 23, while on a medical leave of absence from Cornell, her family says Sophie was active in Ithaca’s culinary scene and hoped to open her own bakery after completing her Cornell degree.

Amateur bakers of all ages are eligible to enter the contest and can win dozens of prizes for best decor, originality, taste and more. Even more incentivizing is the grand prize valued at $250.

Although the event will look different this year, contestants will still bake and decorate cupcakes. Instead of bringing them to the Bernie Milton Pavilion for judging as in past years, they will take photos of their masterpieces and email them to the Sophie Fund.

Another twist this year –– contestants are asked to write a brief story about their cupcakes that can include what or who inspired their recipe and decoration, any challenges that had to be overcome to make their cupcake concept a reality, or any special techniques used.

“We’ll certainly miss gathering with all the contestants and tasting their cupcakes this year, but we’re excited to see the pictures and to read the stories the bakers will share about their cupcake journeys,” said Susan Hack, a co-founder of the Sophie Fund.

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For all the information on contest procedures and rules, and to download a registration form, go to the “Cupcake Contest” page at the Sophie Fund’s website here.

The deadline for submissions is 11:59 p.m. Saturday Oct.17. All entries will be featured online on the Sophie Fund’s website and on the Sophie Fund’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

Entries will be judged by professionals from Ithaca’s bakeries and restaurants. Judges will announce finalists and choose winners during an online live event on Saturday Oct. 24 via Facebook. For those contestants not able to tune in, the Sophie Fund will notify the winners and mail prizes to them.

The 5th annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest is sponsored by GreenStar Food Co+op, Alternatives Federal Credit Union, and Well Said Media as well as student organizations including Active Minds at Ithaca College, Active Minds at Ithaca High School, Cornell Minds Matter, Alpha Phi Omega Gamma Chapter, Phi Sigma Pi honor fraternity, PATCH (Pre-Professional Association Towards Careers in Health) and Building Ourselves through Sisterhood and Service (BOSS).

The beneficiary of this years fundraising campaign is the Village at Ithaca –– an organization that advocates for excellence and equity in Ithaca and area public schools. The Village at Ithaca strives to fulfill its mission by developing strategic community relationships, programs, and services to support all students, particularly Black, Latino/a, low income, and other underserved students.

Donations are accepted online here.

Special Prizes for this year’s winners:

Teens and Pre-Teens: A $100 gift certificate redeemable at dozens of downtown Ithaca shops will be presented with this year’s Special Youth Award.

Movie Makers: All contestants must submit photos and a story, but they can also make a short movie about their cupcakes for a separate $100 Video Prize.

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at