Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Q&A: Communication junior Mary Kate Tracy talks fundraising using ‘sexy’ dough

Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Tracy
Communication junior Mary Kate Tracy holds up one of her bread loaves after a run.

Communication junior Mary Kate Tracy never thought of charging her friends for the loaves of bread she baked for them.

But after she signed up to run the 2024 Chicago Marathon in October with Best Buddies, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting people with disabilities, she decided to combine her passions for baking and running to raise money for the cause and meet the marathon’s charity funding threshold. She sells her loaves of bread under the name MK’s Sexy Doughs on her website and Instagram. 

Tracy sat down with The Daily to discuss her fundraising journey ahead of the 2024 Chicago Marathon.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: What first motivated you to start running?

Tracy: Over COVID, I started to train for a half marathon with my dad, and we would run together on the weekends. When I came to college, I got back into running again. I got pretty intense about my training and was very regimented, and I ended up fracturing my foot. I was unable to run for basically a full year.

I got back into running when I was abroad in Italy this past fall. I would run in every country that I would visit on the weekends as a form of exploration. Then, I found out that there was a marathon in Florence which is where I was studying. I was like, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna sign up and see what happens.’

The Daily: How did you start baking?

Tracy: Sourdough has always been my favorite type of bread. I’ve always wanted to make sourdough bread, but I didn’t really find the time to get into it. Over the summer, I was working from home for the internship that I was doing. I was like, “I think this is like the perfect time to start making sourdough bread.” I got a starter from a bakery by my house and started experimenting. After I made my first couple loaves, I delved into trying different flavor combinations, and I was bringing them to all my friends at home.

The Daily: What made you first decide to combine these two passions?

Tracy: I signed up to run the Chicago Marathon in October 2024. The way you can automatically get in is running through a charity. So I signed up to run it with Best Buddies, which is an organization that helps people with disabilities.

I was thinking and brainstorming ways that I could raise this money. I had been making my sourdough bread all quarter, and I was just giving it to my friends for free. Everyone was telling me, “You need to sell this, you’re losing money.” I love giving loaves to my friends, and it felt weird to try to make a profit from it because it was something that I just enjoyed doing. I didn’t want to ruin the hobby by making it too much of a job. I felt like this was a great combination of raising money for a good cause and just having fun with it.

The Daily: What made you choose Best Buddies as your charity?

Tracy: I (worked with) Best Buddies in my high school. The best way to improve society, to be more accepting of people with disabilities, is to take that person and bring them into your life and not assume that they can’t handle it and assume that they need special assistance. You basically have your best buddy where instead of, “This kid is leaving their friends to go do charity work for an hour,” it’s like “No, they’re bringing this person with disabilities into their life and their friend groups.” I think that is a much better way of looking at it and restructuring society.

The Daily: Is there anything you wish you could tell people about your fundraiser?

Tracy: Combining my bread and my running, the biggest thing I’ve learned is not taking things too seriously. A lot of times people think baking bread is an exact science and training for a marathon, you have to do all of this really intense stuff. How to find fun with these things is just releasing yourself from that idea of having to have that perfect run or having to make that perfect bread and just allowing yourself to experiment and have fun with it. If you don’t worry about the outcome and just focus on enjoying it in the moment, I think that ultimately creates better results.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lmschroeder_

Related Stories: 

Faculty learn strategies for discussing grief, identity at One Book One Northwestern workshop

One Book One Northwestern hosts Helen Cho for talk on Korean diaspora

Curtis Chin talks memoir, Asian American upbringing at Evanston ASPA event

More to Discover