Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/9/2018 (1101 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I can always count on my buddy Big Daddy Tazz when the chips are down, especially if those chips are made from delicious milk chocolate.
That was the case Monday when, for the fourth straight year, Tazz and I joined forces to compete in a no-holds-barred cookie-decorating contest in support of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation.
Tazz — a renowned cookie-loving comedian — and I were one of 12 teams on hand to launch Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Week, wherein the proceeds from every $1 smile cookie sold in the city until Sunday go the rehabilitation foundation to help pay for programs and specialized equipment for disabled children and youths up to the age of 21.
This year’s contest got off to a much better start than last year’s event, because this time around I remembered to arrive clutching a cup of Tims coffee, as opposed to that other famous brand.
"Excellent choice this time, Doug!" is what Jason Kopytko, the always-cheerful regional marketing manager for Tims, chirped as I wandered into the mall’s centre court with my steaming java.
Before the cookie-decorating battle kicked off, there was a trivia contest to determine how much time each team had to decorate their cookie. Tazz and I shrieked the answer to the first question, so we were given the maximum four minutes of decorating time.
In each of the last three years, we have crumbled in the cookie contest for the following three reasons: we did not have a plan; we ate most of our box of Tims chocolate chip cookies before the contest even began; and/or we sucked the pink and blue icing directly from the tubes.
The way this contest works is one person on each team is supposed to paint a portrait of the other person via the artistic technique of squeezing globs of icing on top of a cookie.
This year, Tazz hatched a plan wherein, instead of decorating just one cookie, we would mash all of the cookies together to form a giant head that we would then decorate with an icing beard to resemble Tazz’s trademark facial hair.
Before I tell you the thrilling conclusion, I will point out that last year Smile Cookie Week raised a hefty $117,000 for the foundation to pay for specialized equipment — everything from adaptive bicycles and lightweight wheelchairs to iPads to help kids learn and communicate with their families — and inclusive leisure programs.
"The year before (2016) was record-breaking," Jessica Cable, communications and marketing co-ordinator for the foundation, told me. "We raised $135,000 in 2016, so this year our goal is to beat that amount. Anything above and beyond that would be incredible.
"It’s not just about money. It’s also about people learning about what we do and where our money goes and how we help children with disabilities. Last year we funded over 240 pieces of equipment, ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000. Without fundraisers like this, we couldn’t provide the equipment we do."
The judging in Monday’s cookie slugfest was once again handled by Bernard Rosello, 13, a high-energy Grade 8 student at General Byng School who was born without a right leg and roars around on a prosthetic steel limb with a bouncy fibreglass blade at the bottom.
With a little help from the foundation, Bernard and his infectious smile do more on one leg than most people do on two.
"I play for the high-performance wheelchair basketball team," he gushed, while simultaneously chowing down on a box of Timbits. "We’re going to the Canada Winter Games this year in Red Deer. This is my second year playing. They just tell me to do whatever and I go to that position, except centre, because I’m not tall."
Over the years, Bernard has had about 15 different prosthetic legs. "I wear this leg for basketball, badminton and volleyball," he said.
"My other leg is basically a human leg. It’s got a foot on it. I also play sledge hockey. They (the foundation) got me a razor sledge. It helps me go faster and shoot higher. And they’re getting me a new special wheelchair for basketball."
It would be an understatement to say that having one leg hasn’t slowed this pint-sized powerhouse in the slightest.
"I want people to buy cookies because all the money goes to the foundation to get kids new gear," he declared. "I’m trying to tell people that your disability doesn’t define who you are. It’s what you do that defines you. My goal is to be one of the youngest Paralympians and play for Team Canada."
Speaking of cookies, I’d like to tell you that Tazz and I were victorious, but I’d be lying. When Tazz looked at our misshapen masterpiece, he frowned and grunted: "It looks like two monkeys eating crayons. We had the maximum amount of time to decorate and it still didn’t help!"
When it came to judging, Bernard clearly agreed, awarding the coveted Smile Cookie Cup to KiSS 102.3 morning hosts Drew Kozub and Karly Troschuk, who had only 30 seconds to decorate, but still whipped up a cookie that resembled an alien baby and stuck it in the top of Drew’s hoodie.
"I would like to take full credit for the hoodie idea," Karly declared.
"I’m putting this victory on my resumé," Drew laughed.
The good news is Jason Kopytko from Tims told me the world is starting to take a bigger bite out of smile cookies. "This year, the smile cookie has gone international — it’s being launched in the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates, so it’s gone global," Jason revealed.
Which is great news, kids. So drop whatever you’re doing, pull out your wallets, and go buy a bunch. If you think about it, that will turn them into fortune cookies.
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.