This week's visit by Troy Bader, chief operating officer for the United States and Canada for International Dairy Queen Inc., was truly the luck of the draw.
Becky Steiner, who with her husband, Leon, owns the DQ® store in Hoisington, Kansas, entered a drawing on behalf of CMN Hospitals at Ascension Via Christi at the bi-annual DQExpo held in Puerto Rico in January.
As a result, Bader visited Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in Wichita on Wednesday, June 8, to present a check for $170,000 to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Ascension Via Christi on behalf of the Dairy Queen system. Ascension Via Christi is a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest Catholic and not-for-profit healthcare system.
“For over 30 years the Dairy Queen system has been committed to raising funds for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals®, and we are so proud to present this check for $170,000 to Via Christi,” Bader said of the donation, which will be used for a soon-to-be-announced project to enhance pediatric care at Via Christi’s Wichita hospitals. “These funds will make a significant impact on the experience children will have during potentially stressful moments in their life.”
The check represents half the total amount raised at the Expo attended by approximately 2,000 DQ franchisees, vendors and their families, friends and associates through silent and live auctions and other activities designed to raise money for CMN Hospitals. Part of those funds came from chance drawing tickets donated by DQ franchisees that allowed them to participate in a drawing to determine which two CMN Hospitals would share the event proceeds. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin will receive the other half of the $340,000 raised.
“We’re excited and tremendously grateful that the Steiners, who have been involved with the Dairy Queen system for 32 years, chose to make a donation in our name, giving us a chance to be one of the recipients of this very generous gift,” said Kara Warkentine, who leads CMN Hospitals at Via Christi. “Their willingness to go the extra mile and passion for helping local kids is one of the things for which DQ operators and staff are known.”
While that passion paid off in a big way this year, area operators have been contributing to CMN Hospitals at Via Christi since 1984, raising more than $770,000 to help sick and injured Kansas kids.
For many years, Becky’s father, Ike Walter, owned the Dairy Queen location in Hoisington, but leased it out to others to manage. Becky worked at that store during high school, then worked at other Dairy Queen stores owned by her father while attending college.
When she got married, the couple assumed operational responsibility for the Hoisington store, which they now own. Their youngest daughter, Amber, is now part of the family business and will likely run the Hoisington store when the Steiners retire.
“When the Dairy Queen system got involved in Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, we embraced it as well,” said Becky, noting that her sister-in-law’s baby received compassionate care in Via Christi’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit up until the time of her death at age six weeks. “We come from a very small town, but we get a lot of support for CMN Hospitals from our customers.
“So when I was at the Dairy Queen Franchisee Expo, I made sure I participated in the fundraiser,” she said, adding that they were really shocked when she heard Via Christi’s name announced. “We always hear the big cities being announced as the winners of the drawing, so to hear our name called was wonderful.”
While the Steiners’ children are grown, they have grandchildren who potentially might benefit from this year’s DQ donation as well as from the year-to-year support provided by their store and the stores operated by their fellow DQ franchisees.
“I hope we never have to request assistance from CMN Hospitals for them, but then you never know with little ones.”
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Ascension Via Christi provides services to the more than 150,000 pediatric visits that are experienced every year by Via Christi hospitals and clinics. The dollars raised are used to pay for pediatric equipment, supplies and staff and family education at Via Christi as well as for direct medical assistance for medical needs not covered by insurance regardless of illness, injury or family financial status.