The following is a republished press release from the Sophie Fund and NOT written by the Ithaca Voice … click here to submit community announcements directly to The Voice, or contact me at

ITHACA, NY —Monica Lee Cotto took home the Grand Prize Saturday among 57 contestants competing in the 1st Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest held in the Ithaca Commons.

Her winning entry was a pumpkin cheesecake cupcake, set in a chocolate cage and topped with a confectionery yellow and coral rose and a butterfly crisp.

Monica Lee Cotto’s winning cupcake: pumpkin cheesecake in a chocolate cage topped with a confectionery yellow and coral rose and a butterfly crisp. (Provided photo.)

Second prize went to Becca Johnson, who submitted a “pear-y” maple mandarin cupcake with a vanilla buttercream frosting. Aušra Milano captured third prize with a banana cupcake with cream cheese icing crowned by a fragment of toffee. The contest was organized by The Sophie Fund, established earlier this year in memory of Cornell University art student Sophie Hack MacLeod to support suicide prevention and other mental health initiatives aiding young people in the Ithaca community.

The event was sponsored by the GreenStar Natural Foods Market.

Various community and campus organizations were on hand to support the contest: Cornell Minds Matter, Phi Sigma Pi, and Alpha Phi Omega from Cornell University; and the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service and Mental Health Association in Tompkins County.

“This raises support for an organization which is doing important work in our community that needs support and visibility,” said George Ferrari, Jr., CEO of the Community Foundation of Tompkins County. “This is a great celebratory way of doing that. It’s a way of building a community where everyone takes care of each other. We all have times when we need help and need to reach out and ask for help. This encourages people to both help and also to ask for help if they need it.”

Receiving an Honorable Mention as well as the Best Youth Award was 9-year-old Natalie McCaskill-Myers. Her batch of lemon cherry cupcakes with lavender were decorated with an Eiffel Tower, the Egyptian Pyramids, and a cat representing the life of Sophie MacLeod.

Monica Lee Cotto receives the Grand Prize–a $250 Greenstar Natural Foods Market certificate–from GreenStar’s Debbie Lazinsky. (Provided photo)

The full list of winners in the 2016 Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest:

1st Prize:

Monica Lee Cotto

2nd Prize:

Becca Johnson

3rd Prize:

Aušra Milano

Honorable Mention:

Zoë Dubrow

Stephanie Harris

Natalie McCaskill-Myers

Holly Lopez

Audrey and Isaac Greene

Best Youth Award:

Natalie McCaskill-Myers

Healthiest Award:

Reba McCutcheon

Best Gluten Free Award:

Tamarynde Cacciotti

Top Vegan Award:

Patti Meyers

Best Sprinkles Award:

Amber Pierson

Best Cupcake-Sundae Award:

Rebekah Long

Best Filling Award:

Lena Bartell

Creamiest Filling Award:

Veronica VanCleave-Seeley

Best Surprise Inside Award:

Robyn Schmitt

The Cavity Award:

Claire Litwin

Richest Icing Award:

Emily Dvorak

Best Frosting Award:

Brook Smith

Most “Fall” Award:

Katherine Estaque

Nuttiest Award:

Sadie Hays

Most Beautiful Butterfly Decoration Award:

Alexa Martin

Best Embellishment Award:

Lisa Kellmurray

Berriest Frosting Award:

John Gunn

Berry Berry Good Award:

Gabriella Thurmond

Most Soothing Award:

Linda Linton VanNederynen

Most Intricate Topping Award:

Summer Saraf

For more information about The Sophie Fund, go to

Scott MacLeod, a donor advisor of The Sophie Fund, with volunteers supporting the 1st Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest. (Provided photo)