The War for Cupcakes

originally published in September 2017

Every October, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Mississippi shines a light on Mental Illness Awareness Month with a fundraiser. This year, the organization’s Youth Advisory Council is hosting one to further their mission of mental-health communication while also bringing people together over something sweet: cupcakes.

Jamie Kurlej, communications outreach specialist for NAMI Mississippi and its Youth Advisory Council, says the goal of Cupcake Wars 2017 is to raise money that will help “expand awareness of mental illness,” specifically to a younger audience, she says.

The competition consists of 10 amateur bakers who will bring cupcakes for judging. Guests can either have dinner and a cupcake tasting for $40 or just a cupcake tasting for $20. All proceeds will go toward supporting the outreach programs the organization’s Youth Advisory Council puts on throughout the year.

“Volunteers will serve the dinner and cupcake samples to each table,” Kurlej says, “along with a ballot where guests can rank the cupcakes.”

Celebrity judges will include Jeromie “Kake King” Jones, a professional baker and contestant on Food Network’s “Cake Wars,” and Kristy Johnson, Miss Black Mississippi USA 2017.

“I love the fact that there are still real people trying to help real people,” Jones says. “I think this is a great opportunity to showcase our local talent.”

NAMI Mississippi is also partnering with NFusion Metro Kids for a cupcake decorating competition during the evening.

“I’m really excited to see everyone who comes out and talk more with them about what NAMI and the Youth Advisory Council does,” Kurlej says. “I think it’s special that these bakers are volunteering their time for a great cause. We hope to make this a yearly event.”

The Youth Advisory Council has hosted several outreach programs since the group started in May 2016.

“We do a lot of presentations on how to communicate about mental health,” Kurlej says.

In September 2016, they held a Suicide Awareness and Prevention Vigil at the state capitol. One of the organization’s biggest fundraisers is NAMIWalks, which takes place in November.

Cupcake Wars 2017 will be Sunday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at Broad Street Baking Company (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900). For more information and to register for the event, find the event page on Facebook.

To see more local food news, visit

-Abigail Walker

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A freelance writer from the Deep South with a love of reading, writing, dramatic storytelling, indie music, and her corgi pup.

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