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How you can help support a Bettendorf teen battling rare cancer

The owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes is hosting a week-long benefit at her bakery, where 17-year-old Charly Erpelding works, to help support her and her family.

BETTENDORF, Iowa — The Quad Cities community is rallying around a Bettendorf High School student who is battling cancer for a second time.

Charly Erpelding, age 17, has a rare form of bone cancer and is undergoing treatment in Iowa City.  The first time Charly battled this cancer was nearly a decade ago, at age 8.  

"She's doing really good," said her mom Tara. Charly started her second round of chemotherapy in late July, 2021, and is on a week-on, week-off schedule between rounds. 

Tara said she and her family are seeing a great deal of medical advancements from the first time they went through this.  Plus, Tara said they have faith in Charly's team of doctors, who have been helpful and eager to get her back to full health.

Charly is known for her involvement in the Bettendorf community.  She's invested in school activities like student council and the National Honor Society, but also has taken on outreach tasks, mentoring students and kickstarting a volunteer tutoring group to help students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her boss at Nothing 'Bundt' Cakes, Heather Sowards, said Charly has been an integral part of her bakery business, working there since the very beginning and giving it her all. 

"She's always got a smile," said Heather. 

Credit: Charly (second from left) with coworkers at Nothing Bundt Cakes in Davenport. Photo courtesy of Heather Sowards.

Heather said she's gotten countless compliments on Charly's work ethic, and of course, the smile that customers are greeted by. 

Nothing Bundt Cakes regularly holds fundraisers for community needs, previously benefiting organizations like Argrow's House and the Children's Therapy Center of the Quad Cities. Heather said it's something she likes to do every couple months. 

From July 26 through July 31, Heather said 20% of the bakery's sales will go directly to Charly's family. 

"Our mission is to spread joy through cakes," she said. "Now that we have one of our own that's going through something, we want to bring a little joy back to her."

Tara expressed her gratitude for the outpouring of support from Heather, as well as the community as a whole.

"Our community is awesome," said Tara. "They take such awesome care of us... we could never ask for anything more than what they do."

"We just want to get as many people knowing about what's going on," said Heather.

Charly will be a senior at the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Tara said she's looking forward to getting back to everything she loves.

And above all else, Tara said "we probably just need prayers. We just need (the treatment) to work." 

Along with the bakery fundraiser, other loved ones and members of the community have stepped in to help out. A GoFund Me, which was started by a family member is ticking up toward the $60,000 goal, raising more than $56.5k. 

An online store selling "Cheerin' for Charly" T-Shirts has also been created. Nearly $16,000 of a $25,000 goal has been raised through the T-Shirt sales.
The online store is open through July 23.

Nothing Bundt Cakes is located at 3020 East 53rd Street in Davenport, Iowa.  The bakery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Credit: WQAD

Editor's Note: The video below is a feature on Charly produced by the NCAA in 2012, when Charly was undergoing treatment for her first bout of cancer.