by Liz Graham
There are quite a few things that are absolutely critical to making Walk With Me successful – Ambassador families, volunteers, dedicated team captains, sponsors, donors and after one misstep I learned…HOT DOGS! I naïvely underestimated the importance of the 8 a.m. Hatfield Hot Dog one year; it is a lesson I did not need to learn twice. Easter Seals is so very lucky to have a longstanding community partner and corporate supporter in Hatfield Quality Meats. They have hosted golf outings, supported cause marketing campaigns, volunteered and of course donated hot dogs. Way back in 2008 I was managing my third Walk With Me event and planning was going well, until that fateful call from Steve Clemens in March. Hatfield Quality Meats had a company wide anniversary picnic the same day as Walk With Me and would be unable to attend. Generously they would still donate 2,000 hot dogs but would not be able to send their truck and grill set-up or be able to loan us their large outdoor event grill – everything would be in use at the picnic. I took a deep breath, considered how we could manage to cook 2,000 hot dogs on the Art Museum Steps and decided that logistically it wasn’t possible. We would have to find an alternative option for 2008.
I reached out to critical staff, volunteers and sponsors to get a consensus of what food items we could substitute for hot dogs – bagels, pretzels, snack bars, fruit…I actually thought I had come up with a reasonable plan to feed our participants at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning in June.
And then there was mutiny. I was wrong. There was adamant and unanimous feedback that we MUST have Hatfield Hot Dogs. How could I imagine Walk without them? What was I going to tell the lines of participants expecting their Hatfield Hot Dog? Did I want to ruin the event?!
So I called Steve Clemens, thanked him and Hatfield Quality Meats profusely for their generous donation and scheduled a pick-up of 2,000 hot dogs for two days before the event. How do you store 2,000 hot dogs for two days with no commercial refrigerator? Well I took some home, other staff took some home and we packed the two standard refrigerators at the office. Since the City of Philadelphia requires a special permit to use an outdoor flame we ordered electric hot dog rollers and got to work at 6 a.m. on the Art Museum steps. We never stood a chance. Hot dogs were cooked…SLOWLY. Hot dogs were consumed and enjoyed…RAPIDLY. Our food volunteers worked until they were completely exhausted. We had many comments that our participants enjoyed the event but it just wasn’t the same without Hatfield Quality Meats and the hot dog truck there. They missed Steve, Smiley and the staff that does the cooking.
After cleaning up the event, I got in my car and vowed to never host a Walk With Me event that Hatfield is unable to attend!
That year I learned just how strong of a partnership Hatfield Quality Meats and Easter Seals Walk With Me had formed. Our participants love and appreciate Hatfield’s participation, support and hot dogs. This partnership has continued to grow and strengthen, it has continued to add a vital component to Walk With Me through their donations of labor, food and love. But more so, this partnership continues to provide critical resources for the families we serve.
I so very much enjoy working with Hatfield Quality Meats and the Clemens Family Corporation. They are wonderful people with huge hearts and love of community. We are very lucky to call them friends and even luckier they know how to grill a mean dog!!!