Pancake homecoming

Alcoa Kiwanis breakfast is more than a good meal

The Alcoa Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast raised $21,000 on April 24, and club member James McMillion said the members weren’t really selling pancakes.

“The community gets behind us. We’re not actually selling pancakes, we’re selling scholarships and programs we sponsor in the schools,” McMillion said.

McMillion was washing dishes the morning of the breakfast and said the pancake breakfast is the club’s largest fundraiser. “That’s the way we fund scholarships for kids to go to college and run programs in the schools,” he said. “Without the funds from this breakfast, those programs suffer.”

Club president Brian Perkins was happy with the community response and amount raised. “We raised $21,015 which is a record amount and a tribute to our members and sponsors in these tough economic times,” Perkins said.

Perkins said member T.O. Hester sold 139 tickets, and Earl Anderson of Area 15 Special Olympics fame sold 121 tickets. “A special hats-off to our friends at Special Olympics who raised over $2,100 in ticket sales for our breakfast,” Perkins said.

Perkins said this is the group’s 19th year doing a pancake breakfast. The event is also a way to see old friends. “I grew up in this community. I see some people once a year, and it is always here,” he said.

As a special treat, Jim Braun of Knoxville, lead singer of the band “The Max,” performed with Kiwanis Club members Brian Perkins, Steve Caron and Davis Nichols under the name Kiwanisaurus Rex. Turkey in the Straw also performed.

Kelsey Love, Alcoa, said she and Kyrus Lanxter and son Kamden, 2, made the effort to come enjoy some entertainment and good food. “We wanted to see Brian perform, and we just love pancakes. We’re not usually up at this hour, but we made the sacrifice for a good cause,” she said.

Kiwanis member Richard Davis echoed Perkins’ comments about the popularity of the breakfast. “There are people who come here and see friends they have not seen in years,” Davis said. “It is a home-coming of sorts. People look forward to it each year.”

Money raised through the breakfast goes to support programs the Alcoa Kiwanis Club sponsors at Circle K and Key Clubs at Maryville and Alcoa high schools and Maryville College. The Alcoa Kiwanis also support East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

Davis said the Kiwanis Club said members appreciate it when students from the Key Clubs and Circle K help with the breakfast or simply help in the community.

Davis said the International House of Pancakes provides ingredients for the pancakes as well as train the volunteers on how to make IHOP pancakes. The Alcoa Kiwanis volunteers usually train at the restaurant in Maryville and then work at the Alcoa High School cafeteria the morning of the event. “Every dime after expenses goes to a children’s charity,” he said. “There’s no administrative cost.”

Davis thanked IHOP general manager Samantha Jennett and IHOP cook Manny Cento. “They’re here because they want to do it. They could be home,” he said.

Davis said the cafeteria management and staff at Alcoa High School always accommodate the Kiwanis members. “We need a place like this,” he said. “It is centrally located. We couldn’t do it without Alcoa High School.”

Jennett said she enjoyed helping the club members as they worked around the kitchen or served customers. “It’s a good cause, and it is a good thing to help with,” she said.

Cento worked with the volunteers. “Anytime you can be in a situation where you can help, you have to do it,” he said. “At IHOP, we want to thank everyone who contributes to this.”

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