Downtown Knoxville restaurant holds fundraiser to help 10-year-old

Ethan Woodruff creates his own dessert feature at Babalu Tapas & Tacos: a fried flour tortilla topped with Phoenix ice cream, chocolate sauce, strawberries, peanuts and mint. The special dessert will be sold throughout the day during Ethan’s Taco Shop on March 22. (Photo: Moxley Carmichael)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Downtown Knoxville restaurant is helping a child after a car crash left the 10-year-old with brain damage.

Babalu Tacos and Tapas on Gay Street became Ethan’s Taco Shop Wednesday all for a special cause.

“We actually heard about Ethan through the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital which we partnered up with last year. They told us his story and we just knew we had to help out,” said Dawn Barawid, Babalu’s Community Coordinator.

The lives of Ethan Woodruff and his family changed forever after a car crash in 2013. Ethan suffered a serious brain injury.

Ethan Woodruff (center) helps his sister, Kate, learn how to make tortillas with the help of Babalu Knoxville General Manager Dee Hust. Babalu Tapas & Tacos will host Ethan’s Taco Shop on March 22, and proceeds from the pop-up restaurant will help alleviate the cost of his ongoing therapy following a car accident. (Photo: Moxley Carmichael)

“We have therapy, ongoing costs for therapy, and will for years to come,” said Beth Woodruff, Ethan’s Mother.

Ethan’s Taco Shop is going to offer some relief by doing what they do best: making tacos.

“It was surprising, actually. It was not something I knew that they did,” Beth Woodruff said.

One dollar of the price of each taco is going to help Ethan and his family. Babalu is hoping it will make a huge difference to help offset some of their medical costs.

“Seeing the joy in their eyes and knowing that we have been a part of making something greater,” Barawid said.

Dozens packed in early. Cassidy Garcia was among the first group through the door coming to help Ethan out. The cause is meaningful for her and her 17-month-old daughter.

“We had a whole round of therapies and things for Annabelle. She was a hypoxic ischemic baby, and so we’ve been through that road with brain impacts and so we just decided that if there was something that we could do to help Ethan we’d be happy to,” she said.

Ethan even helped create a special dessert taco just for the event. A tortilla with ice cream, chocolate drizzle, nuts, strawberries and a mint leaf.

As the tacos rolled out of the kitchen, Ethan and his family were grateful for every one of them.

“It’s an expense that keeps coming. It keeps building and growing and getting bigger, so it’s a lot of help,” Beth Woodruff said.

For anyone who could not make it out to the restaurant Wednesday, Babalu also set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money.

This was the first pop-up taco shop Babalu in Knoxville has done, but all Babalu locations do it once a year to help out someone in those communities.

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