Three years ago, eight-year-old Kayla Baayens was suffering.
For months, the Red Deer girl's parents suspected something was wrong as their daughter was losing weight and was constantly lethargic.
On Halloween, Kayla didn’t even feel like trick-or-treating, and that’s when they knew something had to be wrong.
Kayla’s neck eventually seized up and she was unable to move her head. She was subsequently referred to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary where the family was told she had – in simpler terms – childhood arthritis, a condition that could've caused Kayla to become a paraplegic.
That’s where Dairy Queen and the Children’s Miracle Network come in because without them, facilities like the Alberta Children’s Hospital would be without large pockets of funding.
Today, Kayla is 11 and while she still requires an injection every Friday, she is able to go to Dairy Queen and enjoy a blizzard on Miracle Treat Day where net proceeds from the sale of every DQ Blizzard go to the network.
“Kayla got the help she needed immediately and thoroughly and it’s really changed her life. There have been vast improvements to her quality of life,” says Dean Baayens, Kayla’s father.
“She had an underlying condition which flared up and we didn’t know what it was. She saw all the specialists, and they diagnosed her within three or four hours. She got the treatment she needed starting the same day, and within about three to five days her neck started going back to normal.”
Miracle Treat Day took on extra meaning in Red Deer this year as the Hamill family, which owns all four locations in the city, marked $1 million raised. In doing so, they become just the second franchisee family in Canada to achieve that milestone.
“Miracle Treat Day is the grand finale of our year-long fundraising efforts,” says general manager Drew Hamill. “Our staff has been incredible; we do things such as bottle drives, sell raffle tickets, even today we have over 100 hours of donated staff time, and all of that money we turn around and double it towards the Children’s Miracle Network.”
Hamill says the day is more about the community than it is about Dairy Queen. He estimates local Dairy Queen locations sold between 5,000 and 6,000 Blizzards on Thursday and thanked the public for its support.
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