Meet Miss America at IHOP, eat pancakes to help Dayton children

Betty Cantrell -- who may be better known as Miss America 2016-- is channeling her knack for the culinary arts in a visit to Dayton.

Cantrell is visiting to help fulfill her platform, which is designed to support children’s hospitals, and a Beavercreek IHOP is helping her do it. She'll be working at the restaurant from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Feb. 11.

Miss America will be flipping pancakes at the IHOP, located at 2460 North Fairfield Road to promote National Pancake Day on March 8. National Pancake Day is IHOP's fundraising effort designed to help raise awareness and funds for the Children’s Miracle Network

Directly after the IHOP event, Miss America will join children at Dayton Children’s Hospital for a Pancake Party from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. that same day.

To sweeten the pot, if you buy a $1 or $5 balloon at IHOP on National Pancake Day (March 8), each guest will receive a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes.

We talked with Cantrell to learn more about her goals for the event and her experience as Miss America 2016.

Q: Tell us a little more about what’s happening at the IHOP event.
Tomorrow I am actually going to be learning how to flip pancakes in preparation of National Pancake Day, which will be held on March 8. People can come by IHOP in Beavercreek and visit me and watch me learn how to flip pancakes, and then later on in the day we are going to head over to the Children’s Hospital and bring over some pancakes and have a little pancake party for the kids who weren’t able to get out of the hospital to be able to come to IHOP. I am pretty excited about that.

Q: What is the mission of the IHOP event?
Cantrell: The goal for the actual event — National Pancake Day — is to get people to recognize that they can help their Children’s Hospitals in their local area. When you donate money to Children’s Miracle Network, it automatically goes to your local children’s hospital. You will see your money at work, helping kids in your area. It’s a great cause and the Miss America organization is very involved with the Children’s Miracle Network — it is part of our platform. We always get very excited and very involved in National Pancake Day and it raises so much money to help the kids in the hospital. We really hope that people come out and enjoy a free short-stack (of pancakes) courtesy of IHOP, if they will donate to Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

What is your platform and how does your mission align with it?
Cantrell: My personal platform is "Healthy Children, Strong America," so it kind of goes hand-in-hand with Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. So my platform is all about defeating childhood obesity and helping kids to get outside to play and exercise, eat nutritious food, and put down the electronics so the next generation won’t be the first generation to not live like their parents because of childhood obesity. Diabetes is at a growing rate with kids and it can be fatal, and it’s something that is totally preventable. That, along with Children’s Miracle Network Hospital—go kind of hand-in-hand. I am really excited to have the opportunity to be Miss America this year to be able to make a difference and support two platforms that are so very dear to my heart.

We also spoke with Craig Hoffman, IHOP Corporate Spokesperson who talked about why a Dayton IHOP was selected as the host location for the event.

What was the reason for choosing Dayton for the IHOP Pancake event location?
Hoffman: A. We love Dayton, and B., we haven’t been in Dayton for what I think has been almost 24 years, which I think was the last time an IHOP was open. We were really excited about coming back.

What do you hope Daytonians will be able to get out of this event?
Hoffman: I hope they will come down and meet Miss America. I hope they will have a great breakfast at IHOP, but most of all I hope they will contribute. You can buy a balloon for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital from now right up to National Pancake Day, which is March 8. They are $1 and $5, and if you buy a $5 balloon, all of that money goes to the Children’s Hospital, but you get a $5 bounce-back coupon at IHOP where you can get $5 off your next meal. In essence, you are giving to charity and getting breakfast. This is the 11th year we are doing it, and so far in the last decade we have raised over $20 million through pancakes. All of the money that is raised is going directly to Dayton in order to help Dayton children.