Bunny Kasper, a Connecticut woman who has had Type 1 diabetes for many years and who has two grandsons with the disease, is rather famous in diabetes circles. Kasper is known to JDRF Ride to Cure Diabetes Riders as the bearer of treats; the woman who creates an incredible, simple array of snacks that she carries from break point to break point at rides to cheer up, perk up and thank JDRF Riders for pedaling hard to fund research to better treat and cure Type 1 diabetes. Riders pushing through steep hills, long passes and hot days are known to focus on what’s ahead: not just cold water and a moment to breathe, but Bunny and her tray of goodies. What led Kasper to her dedicated baking? Necessity.
“It has always bothered me terribly that we cannot ride [both Kasper and her husband are athletic people who can’t ride due to injuries],” she said. “To be honest, it kills us. We feel like all these people are doing this, working so hard for us. It used to bother me. Then I thought to myself: wait: I can cook!”
Can she ever. Years ago, when Kasper had her twin sons, she found herself up at night and used the time to study cake decorating and baking. Soon, she had a thriving business.
“I was the Cake Boss 40 years ago,” she said. “People were booking me years ahead of time.” She has baked for famous folks like the Vanderbilts, and was even asked to bake with Julia Child.
Many years later, baking for JDRF riders came into play. Kasper’s son, Scott, father of her two grandchildren with Type 1, was coordinating and riding in an event called “Hope on Two Wheels.” To support the Boston to D.C. ride, she created all kinds of treats. At one harrowing part of the ride after the riders had just faced down hills, tornadoes and thunderstorms, Kasper fed them a concoction she makes to give riders a boost. It did indeed soothe the freaked out riders. One handed it to another and said “Eat this: it will take the edge off.” And thus, “bike crack” was born.
The following year, after word of her treats spread, Kasper began her tradition of cooking and baking for rides. She works for months prior, freezing things and readying them for the day. Then, on ride day, she travels from stop to stop sharing the goodies with the riders as they pedal toward their goal.
Rider Sarah Meidl can still remember her first bite of Kasper’s treat at the Saratoga Ride in September.
“It was amazing,” she said. “Exactly what I needed at that moment. And the fact that it was made with love made it even better.”
Some riders push forward on the look-out for Kasper, wondering what she’ll be serving at each stop.
JDRF CEO Derek Rapp said, “As a not-so-serious rider, I take particular advantage of the rest stops in a JDRF Ride. The rest stops are always staffed by lovely, smiling volunteers serving us food, energy drinks, etc., but at the Saratoga Ride, the rest stops were extra special because of the incredible treats from Bunny and Mike Kasper. At each rest stop, we were treated to different delectables they had prepared over the previous several weeks. The treats were incredible, and I was fortified almost as much by their calories as by the obvious love and spirit that Bunny and Mike put into each tasty bite.”
Because so many riders ask for recipes, Kasper sagely turned that into a fundraiser in itself. Kasper’s Cook for a Cure Facebook page asks for a donation to the JDRF to be made to have access.
To date, The Kasper family and Bunny’s treats have raised well over $200,000 toward better treatments and a cure for Type 1 diabetes. “Feeding the people working so hard to find my cure makes me feel like a million dollars,” she said. “I wont stop doing this until we are done.”