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12-year-old with Down syndrome opens cupcake shop

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 5/26/2017 Mitchell A. Skurzewski
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MARSHFIELD, WI - John  Truel punches in the total, hands customers change out of the pink cash register and thanks each visitor for coming. Friends from school, teachers and community members come in to Cupcakes on 8th to see John, to satisfy their sweet tooth and support a boy who has some lofty goals.

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John and his mother hope to hire other special needs kids at Cupcakes on 8th, to help them as the shop has helped John in his interactions with people.

John is 12 years old and has Down syndrome. His mom, Patricia, has always had an affinity for baking, she ran a cupcake shop called Baked by Patricia when the family lived in Long Island, New York. The family moved to Marshfield in 2015 and Patricia bought the store late last year. Cupcakes on 8th is located at 509 E. Eighth St. and, after renovations, opened up the business and made John part-owner. She thought this would be a great way for John to work on life skills.

"It's what he wants to do," she said.

When asked about his favorite part of having the cupcake shop, John said it was "seeing all my friends" who visit after school.

"This is what he's going to do," Patricia said. "He loves to cook and bake. And so do I, so this works out."

Cupcakes on 8th opened March 11 after a renovation that included new floors, new decor with pink cabinets. Patricia wears a polka-dot dress and John typically wears a polka-dot bow-tie with '50s music playing. A step into the cupcake shop is like a step back in time.

Patricia Puskas Truel said she is debating putting in a jukebox player to complete the old-school feel.

Visitors will soon be able to make their own dessert creations at a cupcake bar, with everything from Fruity Pebbles to gummy bears to Reese's Pieces topping the baked goodies.

Patricia does all the baking with the oven right behind the cupcake case that displays her 25-cent goodies. She makes the cupcakes from scratch from mini-cupcakes sold at 25 cents, along with regular cupcakes on the weekends. There isn't a shortage of options with white raspberry, peanut butter chocolate and maple walnut among the options for 25-cent cupcakes on Tuesday. She has had hot fudge sundae, Lou-Lou Lemon, cinnamon roll cupcakes and more since opening.

"We thought this would be a great idea for not only us but for the community," Patricia said. "It is good for John for math and counting and interaction. This is exciting for us."

Patricia said John enjoys working many days, but the short hours are for John because it makes a long day for him with school and then working at the shop.

"It's a good way for him to feel important," she said. "I felt like, what better way for him to feel important than to be part owner?"

The cupcake shop is open:

  • 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday
  • 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday
  • 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
  • 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday

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