Few things have a greater ability to bring smiles to children’s faces than ice cream.
It might be fitting, then, that Dairy Queen has linked with Children’s Miracle Network to help fund medical research and treatment for the nation’s youngest patients.
At an event that packed Brookville’s Dairy Queen restaurant Thursday evening to benefit Children’s Medical Network and All Children’s Hospital, Dairy Queen’s CEO, John Gainor, joined the store’s owner, Dan Byrnes, to thank the community for its support.
In honor of National Treat Day, Dairy Queen donated $1 for every Blizzard sold between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. The Brooksville restaurant simultaneously held a gala with raffled items and live entertainment by a local Elvis impersonator — Hernando County favorite Ken E — to entice the crowd to give generously to the cause.
Gainor said his heart and soul are centered on doing whatever he can to make a difference in the lives of children battling illness or disease.
Events such as Dairy Queen’s National Treat Day aim to ensure young patients get the care they need at local children’s hospitals.
Each year, Gainor visits a different Dairy Queen market in the United States. “I like to visit ones like Dan’s. He does a real good job not only for Dairy Queen but for CMN.”
All money raised to support the network stays in the community to help local children.
Gainor and a team of colleagues began Thursday touring All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg before heading north to Brooksville to attend the evening event.
A sizeable crowd turned out to buy Blizzards. Patrons gathered on the outside patio on the balmy evening, applauding as raffle winners were announced. A child’s scooter, a little girl’s bicycle and a George Foreman grill were among the prizes.
Jake Fugate, 10, brought a calf he was raising as a member of 4H and displayed her in a portable pen in the parking lot. Visitors were asked to guess her weight. The winner, who estimated within three pounds of the correct figure, received a Blizzard a month for the year.
Fugate wowed the crowd with his promise to donate 10 percent of the calf’s sale price when she reaches her full weight to All Children’s Hospital.
But charity was, after all, the theme of this event.
Brooksville residents Joyce and Joe Chiavavoll bought a stack of raffle tickets and were two-time winners. A red scooter, a prize that caught the eye of one child in the audience, was the first item the couple won. The Chiavavolls quickly gave the scooter to the little boy.
Their second winning ticket landed the pink girl’s bicycle. Again, the couple gave away the prize — this time to an eager young girl with golden hair.
Dorothy Famiano and her daughter, Dainelle, 11, were waiting in the restaurant’s drive-through when Danielle spotted the Elvis impersonator. “She’s a huge fan,” Dorothy Famiano said.
The two joined the crowd to watch the action, supporting All Children’s Hospital where Danielle spent time as an infant. “We were thrilled to support such a wonderful event,” Dorothy Famiano said.
The outpouring of support impressed Gainor. “Dan does a lot for the Dairy Queen system,” Gainor said. “This was a nice way to recognize what he has done.”