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Here’s the front page newspaper article from the Friday, July 23rd issue of the Grand Haven Tribune:

Ice cream for breakfast a tasty treat for Justin Strait’s favorite charity

Fri, Jul 23, 2010

BY MARIE HAVENGA – Grand Haven Tribune
mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com

After five open heart surgeries, 7-year-old Justin Strait hopes Tri-Cities residents will open their hearts — and donate to a charity near and dear to his.

Pictured Back Row – Left to Right: Stefanie Herder, Keena Steinke, Jody Sprite, Tiffany Strait, and Pat Strait. Front Row – Kari Strait, Justin Strait, and Cameron Steinke.

Donating is a piece of cake — well, actually, a bowl of ice cream. The Spring Lake Holiday Inn is hosting an Ice Cream for Breakfast event from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday to benefit the Orlando-based Give Kids the World Village, where Justin stayed for a week in 2008.

The idea is simple and sweet. Make a donation at the door and prepare to break breakfast rules. Grab a dish, fill it with your favorite flavors, add toppings and spoon your way through the morning. It’s delightfully decadent — and for a good cause.

The 51-acre Give Kids the World Village provides lodging for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Justin was born with three holes in his heart and a detached pulmonary artery. The Mary E. White Elementary School first-grader has endured five surgeries, the most recent in December.

“We’re hoping this one will hold until at least his teen years,” said his mom, Tiffany, who is an assistant restaurant manager at the Holiday Inn. “He has so much energy right now you wouldn’t even know he was sick.”

With the help of the Make a Wish Foundation, Justin and his family spent a week at the village in March 2008 while they vacationed at Disney World.

“His wish was to see Mickey Mouse,” Tiffany said. “We stayed at the villa. It’s like a candyland theme with an arcade, mini golf, swimming pools … It’s just awesome. They sent us to Disney and the Disney characters come to see the children if they’re too sick to go to Disney. There’s a snoring tree that the kids think is awesome. There’s a trash can that talks to you. The place is just magical. It’s really a magical place.”

The menu is also magical — kids can eat ice cream any time, even for breakfast.

Give Kids the World dedicated the month of July to fundraising with the ice cream for breakfast theme. The local Holiday Inn jumped on the cause — especially since Tiffany and her husband Patrick both work there.

Stefanie Herder, director of sales for the Holiday Inn, said Tiffany first mentioned the event and Herder heard about it again two weeks later at a Holiday Inn training session. Give Kids the World is a charity of choice for the Holiday Inn headquarters.

“We’re trying to do more community things in the area,” said Herder of the event that will take place on the outdoor patio. In case of rain, the ice cream will be moved indoors. “We try to keep it as local as possible and we have a personal connection with Tiffany and Pat. We love them. Both of them have won employee of the month.”

Tiffany said she and her family look forward to the opportunity to give back to the organization that housed them two years ago.

“Everything we raise on Saturday will go toward the villa in honor of Justin,” Tiffany said. “Finally we can give something back. We’ve tried saying just ‘thank you,’ but that doesn’t seem like enough.”‘

Justin’s 10-year-old sister Kari will set up a bake sale during the ice cream buffet. She and her grandma, aunts and cousins baked up the goodies. All proceeds go to the villa.

Justin hopes to help scoop ice cream, which was donated by Culver’s, Dairy Treat, Meijer, Sysco Foods and Holiday Inn.

“He’s very excited about this fundraiser,” Tiffany said. “He calls the villa ‘our house in Florida.’ He always wants to go back to our house in Florida because he says it’s more fun than our house in Michigan.”

Here’s the link to the actual article ~>http://www.grandhaventribune.com/paid/302751275392709.bsp

Thanks again to the Grand Haven Tribune for the wonderful article and for covering the event!