KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Visiting your local IHOP on March 7 will give you more than just food, but a chance to give back to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
With a suggested minimum donation of $5 you can get a free short stack of pancakes and your money will stay local to help out Children’s Hospital and patients like Gabriella Stills and Cadence Bucklen. Gabriella lives with Type 1 diabetes and has been a patient at Children’s Hospital since she was five years old.
“Last October she had surgery to remove a tumor from her lung and they also removed the whole upper lobe of her right lung,” said Gabriella’s mom, Staci Stills.
“You know we’re the place I like to say, as a mom myself, you never want to end up there with your child but you sure are glad Children’s Hospital is here when you need them,” says Erica Estep with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
“When Cadence was five she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis it was something we were not expecting at all,” said Cadence’s mom, Leah Bucklen.
Through their many visits to Children’s Hospital, the staff has come to know both Cadence and Gabriella, among many others, and asked them to be part of the ambassador program for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals to help raise awareness and funds.
“I get to help the hospital raise money for other children, like me!” said Gabriella.
That’s all made possible through events like National Pancake Day, where a small donation goes on to buy big things like life saving and life changing equipment for the hospital.
“That’s the best part about it -hen the patients come back and their families come back and they want to give back,” said Estep.
“I just want to raise money for Children’s Hospital so people like me can feel better,” says Cadence.
The pair even draw from personal experience to give advice to other kids who may find themselves in the exact same shoes.
“She can get through it, it’s hard at first but you get used to it and it’s like nothing’,” said Gabriella.
All donations made at local, participating IHOP restaurants will stay local.
In 2016, East Tennessee IHOP customers donated more than $12,000 to Children’s Hospital. Since the National Pancake Day celebration begin in 2006, IHOP has raised more than $24 million to support charities in communities throughout the country.