April 4 was supposed to be a big day for Alcoa Kiwanis — its 29th annual pancake breakfast was slated for that day at Alcoa High School.

Members like Donna Bailey, Art Haffner, Jim Norton, Bruce Damron, Will Sellars, Marc Wolak and James Cheroni met back in early March along with event Chairman Brad Smith for the ever-so fun and informative Pancake University. IHOP sends a representative to show new Kiwanis members how to plop out those 5-inch discs of batter than turn into fluffy pancakes right there on the grill.

Just days later, the whole affair would be postponed to September and then canceled outright. Alcoa Kiwanis’ biggest fundraiser of the year wasn’t happening in 2020.

“The 29th annual Alcoa Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast that was to be held on April 4 is canceled and no makeup date will be attempted,” Smith emailed fellow Kiwanians and others. “It will not be feasible to hold our breakfast at any time during the remainder of 2020.”

This would have been Smith’s second year overseeing the major event. He provided numbers on just how successful the breakfast was in 2019. A total of $36,133 was raised, surpassing the goal of $33,000. Kiwanians served pancakes to 619 patrons last year. That is almost 2,000 pancakes cooked on the spot and served up with sausage, coffee and juice.

It takes all Kiwanians to help out, Smith said back in March. They set up the cafeteria, cook, serve and also clean up.

It would seem, then, the cancelation of the 2020 event would be catastrophic from a fundraising standpoint. However, that hasn’t been the case. Far from it.

“Although not a single pancake was flipped, except for Pancake University training, Alcoa Kiwanis raised over $35,000 versus a goal of $36,000 or 97% of target in the weeks leading up to the mid-March nationwide shutdowns,” Smith reported.

Kiwanians already had begun selling tickets to the April 4 breakfast. Sponsors had been lined up. Smith said all 2020 tickets will be honored at the 2021 event. Or if patrons choose, the tickets for 2020 can be redeemed now for 20% off at the Maryville IHOP.

Smith and fellow club members are quick to point out that 100% of the proceeds from the annual fundraiser goes to support local programs, including Blount County Head Start, 4-H, Special Olympics, Wears Valley Ranch, Boy Scouts and East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

Kiwanis also works with AmTrykes and provides specially engineered tricycles for handicapped youth. In addition, the club assists families in Alcoa City Schools with household emergencies.

Primary Players, Family Promise of Blount County and Imagination Library receive support from Alcoa Kiwanis, too. The total monetary support to children and families las year totaled more than $45,000 Smith said. That total includes scholarships to local students.

Even when food is left over at the annual pancake breakfasts, none goes to waste. The 2019 leftovers went to women’s shelter Heaven Sent Home, the Martin Luther King Community Center in Alcoa and to Family Promise.

“The many local charities that we help each year need us now more than ever,” Smith emailed members, adding that 100% of the contributing sponsors allowed Kiwanis to keep their donations despite no 2020 breakfast. That includes IHOP, Mayfield Dairies, Starbucks and Alcoa High School.

This week, Smith said the plans for 2021 might be a drive-up, take-out pancake breakfast, but the final decision hasn’t been made.

Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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