IHOP set to serve up pancakes with a purpose
At three-and-a-half years old, Justice is quite the independent young lady.
"She knows what she likes and she knows what she doesn't like!" says her mom, Brittony Lewis.
Dad Aaron Jackson agrees it's fun watching her come into her own.
"She has a very outgoing personality, very bubbly," he said.
Justice was born with the genetic condition Williams Syndrome. It delayed her walking and talking, and contributed to a heart defect requiring two surgeries before her first birthday.
"Right now, we're followed by a cardiologist only once a year, whereas before, we were going every three months and getting echos done," Lewis said. "Then, she follows up with endocrinology once every six months, so it's a lot less doctors' appointments, but we're still seeing a bunch of specialists."
Fortunately, Justice has been able to get much of her medical care close to her Manhattan home.
"I work already all the time so it's good that we don't have to travel far to go ahead and get the needs and attention that she's required," Jackson said.
It's thanks in part to funding pediatric programs at Stormont Vail receive through Children's Miracle Network, and partners like IHOP.
"If we didn't have IHOP, we wouldn't be able to support the 42,000 kids that we serve," said Sarah Basso, the CMN program manager at Stormont.
CMN gets a big boost Tuesday, Feb. 25, when IHOP serves up pancakes with a purpose. You can get a free short stack, in hopes of encouraging your donations to CMN.
"We love to get to meet the people, the children like Justice. That makes a big difference in our community and it's great for us to be able to know exactly where the donations are going," said Brenda Burch, manager of Manhattan's IHOP location.
"It's incredibly busy but it's fun because everybody is coming together for all the children," said Natasha Norwood, IHOP's district manager.
For Stormont, it will mean more families can access the breastfeeding clinic and NICU followups, or have a child life specialist if they're in the hospital.
"(Those services) are free for families to come, get different services. They wouldn't literally be possible if we didn't have funds like IHOP," Basso said.
Justice and her family hopes it's a cause you'll "eat up" - ensuring a brighter future for her and other kids.
"Our hope for the future is that it's limitless for Justice. We want her to be whatever she wants to be," Lewis said.
"I just hope she's able to do everything that a normal kid (can do), and that everybody just looks at her as the bright spot that she is," Jackson added.
IHOP Pancake Day is Tuesday, Feb. 25, with free short stacks from 7 am to 7pm.
All northeast Kansas locations are participating, including both in Topeka, along with Manhattan, Junction City, Salina, and Emporia.