Photo: River Valley Leader

A gesture of goodwill in the form of cake.

Michelle Darrisaw
June 19, 2017

What should have been the happiest day for a bride and groom in Russellville was marred by a devastating accident involving the bride’s son, just a few hours before the couple was set to say their long-awaited “I dos.”

On Tuesday, June 13, 15-year-old Russellville High School student William Strickland was out with friends when he suddenly crashed his skateboard and landed on his head. Helmetless, the athlete suffered from a traumatic head injury and was put in a medically-induced coma, leaving Strickland’s mother and stepfather no choice but to postpone their impending ceremony to be by his side at the Children’s Hospital.

When Gabrielle Short, owner of Kneading Hands Bakery in Russellville, attempted to drop off the wedding cake to the bride-to-be, she received the heartbreaking news about Strickland. Stunned, Short came up with the idea to auction off the cake to help raise funds towards Strickland’s medical bills. After posting the idea on Facebook, Short was met by a receptive community, ready to lend their support. “I didn’t have any intentions of it becoming what it did,” Short told ArkansasMatter.com. “I’m just so happy we got this opportunity to do this for them.”

The auction winner wants to remain anonymous, but Short revealed the winning bid was placed by a woman in Virginia who has a son the same age as Strickland. The winner was allowed to have the cake decorated to her liking, so she chose to adorn the original white tiered confection in brightly-colored dots. To date, Kneading Hands Bakery has raised $500, and it will also provide another cake free of charge for the bride and groom once the wedding is rescheduled and Strickland recovers.

Even though June 13 will no longer be reserved as the date of a wedding anniversary for the Arkansanian couple, it will, however, be a day defined by the strength, benevolence, and resolve of a community coming together in the face of adversity for one of their own. Not to mention, the big-hearted business owner, who decided to bake the world, or, in this case, a small Southern town, a better place.

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An account is set up at Centennial Bank to collect donations for Will Strickland, and you can also show your support on social media using the hashtag #Willpower.