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Free pancakes for a worthy cause

Miss Ohio’s Outstanding Teen, Cecili Weber, talks to customers Eric and Rebecca Spurlock about the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and National Pancake Day at the Ashland IHOP. The Tribune/Jennifer Chapman

Cecili Weber was checking in with customers Tuesday morning at the Russell IHOP, and she might have been mistaken for a friendly, smiling employee if it weren’t for the tiara and sash.

As Miss Ohio’s Outstanding Teen, Cecili was educating customers on the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals during IHOP’s National Pancake Day.

The IHOP National Pancake Day Celebration meant a free shortstack of pancakes from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. to every guest. Donation boxes were set up inside the restaurants if anyone wanted to give to the cause. Cecili was really happy to be a part of it.

“We contacted the location,” Cecili said about being able to be involved in it. “Miss America is the ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network.”

“It’s amazing,” she said. “Not many 15 year-olds get to be a part of something like this.”

A sophomore at St. Joseph High School in Ironton, she received an additional benefit.

“It got me out of three periods of class this morning too,” she laughed.

Cecili said a lot of customers already knew it was Pancake Day when she talked to them.

“It’s fun to see them excited about it,” she said. “There will be a lot of donations today.”

The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises money for children’s hospitals across the country, helping them get needed equipment, research or for providing services. Tuesday, IHOPs across the country helped out for the sixth year to support them in their mission.

The efforts have raised a total of $7.3 million nationwide since the project began. The goal for this year is $2.3 million, which averages to about $1500 per location, said Mike Garrido, general manager.

“I’m very proud of it,” Garrido said. “It’s a local benefit to provide money to the Children’s Miracle Network. All the money stays right here in town.”

Larry Harr was having breakfast there with his uncle, Bert Kouns, both of Ashland. Regular IHOP customers, they didn’t know it was Pancake Day before they got there, but were glad to be a part of it.

Eric and Rebecca Spurlock of Ironton didn’t know about Pancake Day either, but were pleasantly surprised by it. The Children’s Miracles Network Hospital is a charity they are happy to help.

“It’s such a great thing for them to do this,” Rebecca said. “We will probably go online to donate too.”

“That is an organization we will definitely give to,” Eric said, and added that they planned on returning to IHOP that evening with their two sons.