West Richland teen's 'bucket list' turns into piece of cake

Liz Evett still was sleeping Saturday morning when her mother heard a familiar voice on the other end of the West Richland family's telephone.

The 17-year-old incoming Hanford High senior had gotten home late Friday after a day in Seattle spent crossing activities off her "bucket list" -- things to do before she dies.

Her mother, Angie Ivey, figured Liz, who was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago and relapsed this April, needed to sleep after getting VIP treatment at a Greek restaurant, traveling to the top of the Space Needle and meeting the Mariners.

"Liz is going to kill me for not waking her up," Angie told the famous stranger on the other end of the line.

But when Liz awoke she heard the news: Mary Alice Yeskey, who is featured on Food Network's reality show Ace of Cakes, was coming to visit Liz on Monday.

Meeting an employee from Baltimore-based Charm City Cakes is on Liz's page-long list, which was inspired by last winter's movie The Bucket List about two men who create a list of things to do before they kick the bucket.

Although Liz, who doctors gave weeks to months to live after her illness stopped responding to chemotherapy in June, has checked many things off her list in the past six weeks, "I never actually thought (meeting a Charm City Cakes employee) would happen."

"It's almost like it's not real," Liz added.

It was even more surreal for Yeskey, who lived in Kennewick for three years in the late 1970s and early '80s.

An article about Liz's bucket list was featured Friday in the Tri-City Herald, and mentioned her wish to meet a Charm City employee.

Yeskey, who hadn't been to Washington in 27 years, was in Seattle for a wedding. Being on East Coast time, she woke up early and checked her e-mail out of boredom.

Her e-mail included an alert about the mention of Charm City Cakes in the Herald.

"I rarely look at (the alerts) anymore, but that was the first one on that e-mail."

When she read it, "I proceeded to freak out," Yeskey said Monday while sitting next to Liz in West Richland. "I started to shake. I was just picking my jaw up off the floor.

"I just couldn't believe that I read that when I was in Seattle," she added. "(I thought) 'There's a reason why I'm here right now.' "

Not only was Yeskey in the state, but she also had already planned to drive through the Tri-Cities to visit her family's old house about a mile south of Kennewick General Hospital. She's on a road trip to Austin, Texas.

"The universes imploded on another and everything aligned," Yeskey said. "I'm just super-excited to be here and couldn't believe the providence of all these things happening."

The Food Network, one of Liz's favorite channels, was playing in the background Monday afternoon while Liz and Yeskey got to know one another. They talked about their favorite Food Network shows and Duff Goldman, the bakery's owner.

Liz tried to explain how exciting it was to meet Yeskey, and Yeskey responded, "You've got nothing on my excitement, lady."

While talking, Liz drew Yeskey a picture of a monkey holding a cake and wearing a hat with the word "Duff" written on it.

Yeskey told Liz she would try to hang it behind her desk so it would be on camera when Yeskey is interviewed on Ace of Cakes, which is in its fifth season about the popular bakery and its employees.

Another wish of Liz's is to eat a cake from Charm City Cakes, which start at $1,000. She was plotting last week to get one in time for her 18th birthday on Aug. 17, but the bakery is booked through this year.

Liz might not get a Charm City cake for her birthday (they don't ship the extravagant creations).

But, Yeskey said, "She's definitely going to get an Aug. 17 package of awesome."

* Laura Kate Zaichkin: 582-1521; lzaichkin@tricityherald.com