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Shneila Lee knows first-hand what it’s like to be a foster child.
She went through the foster care system from the ages of 8 to 18, when she aged out — and was six months pregnant with her first child.
As she put it, “I was a statistic. I was a teen mom, I was homeless, and I didn’t have any family to go back to.”
Suddenly, the mom-to-be was not only looking for an apartment, but a way to afford her rent — with what she called “zero life skills.”
Not long after, the Charlotte Observer ran an article about Shneila and other foster children who were aging out of the system. Touched by the young woman’s plight, one of the newspaper’s writers, Karen Sullivan, invited her to a class for something she taught on the side: cake decorating.
And it completely changed her life.
“I was able to get a job decorating cakes at the local grocery store,” says Shneila. And the best part? Because cake decorating is a specialized skill, “I started way above minimum wage.”
Fast-forward years later, and Shneila now runs her own charitable cake organization, Cakes4Kids Charlotte, which works to create personalized cakes for children in foster care, "so that their birthdays don’t go unnoticed," she says, and also teaches cake decorating classes to foster children.
"I want to give the kids the same tools and opportunities that I got," Shneila says.
(We’re not crying — you’re crying!)
And, thanks to an article covering Shneila’s amazing organization, Karen was able to find out just what Shneila did with the skills she taught her, and the two have reconnected.
In fact, they’re nearly inseparable!
So, what do you do with such an inspiring story about two cake lovers?
Well, if you’re us, you introduce them to the boss of cakes himself — “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, of course!
We had Buddy pop in to one of their cake decorating classes, and you will LOVE their adorable reaction to his surprise. (Even the students were ecstatic!)
Watch the video above for more about Shneila, Karen, and Buddy’s amazing day together.
Plus, watch Buddy’s how-to for creating a “Christmas tree cake” below. (Shneila and Rach decorated their own, too!)