Diners help patients
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 12:02
Chatter filled the restaurant as hosts and waitresses scurried between tables, leading hungry guests to their chairs. People crammed into the foyer, crowding the large donation box responsible for the influx of Cache Valley residents to IHOP.
Tuesday was “Free Pancake Day,” and each IHOP guest received a free short stack of pancakes. Even more, pancake houses nationwide paired with the Children’s Miracle Network to help save patient lives.
The Logan IHOP teamed up with Primary Children’s Hospital to aid children like 11-year-old Cache Valley cancer survivor Sydney Mecham.
Mecham was at IHOP to help raise awareness and support for the disease.
“Primary Children’s means a lot to me for what they’ve done for me and a lot of my friends,” she said.
Mecham was was diagnosed with cancer near the end of 2012 after she went to Primary Children’s Hospital for an MRI. She was released 10 days later after a multitude of tests and scans.
Lindsey Lopez, who helped raise awareness for the event as part of her duties as Miss Cache Valley, has grown close to Mecham as the two have interacted. Lopez said Mecham was eager to help at Pancake Day because she experienced what it is like to be a patient at Primary Children’s hospital.
“It kind of links everything together,” Lopez said. “To have someone like Syd here, they can actually see who they’ll be helping with their donations.”
IHOP manager Karlene Buckingham has been affected personally by the kindness shown at Primary Children’s Hospital after three of her nephews tested positive for serious diseases.
“It’s pretty near and dear to me,” she said of the hospital. “It’s nice to do something to give back.”
Buckingham said the restaurant housed a much larger number of people than last year’s event, which gave away $38,000 in free pancakes. Some of the waiters even donated the tips they made Tuesday.
“I told them ‘Don’t worry about tips, think of the children,’” Buckingham said. “It’s one thing to just give back one time.”
Lopez, who is helping with the event for the second-straight year, said the draw was much better than last year.
“I’m trying to make this different, to change it to make it a vehicle for good,” she said.
But for Mecham, it means much more. Because she undergoes chemotherapy every three weeks, Mecham has lost the hair on top of her head.
“It’s difficult in a lot of ways, but lots of good comes out of it,” Mecham said, citing feelings of frustration when people ask her why she doesn’t have hair.
Part of that good is the alliance IHOP has made with the Children’s Miracle Network. As the donation box slowly continued to fill up at the Logan IHOP, hope continues to fill children across the country who suffer from cancer and other diseases.
Mecham addressed them, partly talking to herself.
“Don’t give up,” Mecham said. “It’s really hard and there’s a lot of times you think it’s not worth it, but you meet new people and learn new things.”
“And it gets better,” she added.