Cake decorator with autism: “Thank you for being kind”


CALEDONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — When the cake Abie Ezinga decorated went viral and made national news, she was confused by all the fuss.

“Because it’s just a cake and I didn’t really get it,” she told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday.

But it was much more that than for a lot of people.

Last month, Lisa Aldrich bought a cake at the Meijer in Gaines Township, near Grand Rapids. She asked an employee to write a happy birthday message on it. When other employees saw it, they asked Aldrich if she wanted a new one. Aldrich said she didn’t. An employee then told her the woman who decorated the cake — Ezinga — has autism.

A cake decorated at the Gaines Township Meijer, posted to Facebook by Lisa Sarber Aldrich on Nov. 29, 2015.
A cake decorated at the Gaines Township Meijer, posted to Facebook by Lisa Sarber Aldrich on Nov. 29, 2015.

Aldrich shared the story on Facebook hoping to pass along a message: Be Nice.  It worked — the Facebook post went viral.

Now, Ezinga wants to share her message.

“Thank you for being understanding and kind,” she said.

Ezinga has been working at the Meijer bakery for about six months.

“I get to meet a lot of new people,” she said.

She stocks the shelves, preps the cookies and does whatever needs to be done. Except for cake decorating — that’s not part of her job.

Ezinga was the only one in the bakery when Aldrich showed up.

“She asked me (to write) ‘happy birthday Mandy,’ and I asked her how does she spell Mandy because a lot of people always spell different names differently,” Ezinga said.

Ezinga finished the cake and  forgot about it until Aldrich’s photo of it took off on Facebook. It had been shared more than 151,000 times as of Wednesday. People from all over commented on how it touched them.

“A lot of people think that people with autism aren’t able to do things. … People need to do research on things that they don’t understand,” Ezinga said.

People with autism have problems with brain development. The effects are seen in varying degrees through difficulties in social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors.

“She (Aldrich) understood that I have a disability and I don’t do things like other people do,” Ezinga said.

Enziga proves you don’t’ have to be flawless to frost a cake.

As for her future in cake decorating:

“Well, I’m not a cake decorator and I don’t know what my future holds, so I just go with the flow,” she says.

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