Wings and a Care
“We were always a little reluctant to do it because of the name of the restaurant and the fact that people might think we were trying to be opportunistic or that perhaps we weren’t being sincere,” says Mike McNeil, the restaurant chain’s vice president for marketing.
Then came Kelly Jo Dowd. One of the original waitresses, Dowd became the first “Hooters Girl” to become a general manager.
Dowd was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. She became a vocal advocate for self-exams and breast screenings, retelling her story of finding a lump but waiting too long (nearly a year) to see a doctor.
Dowd’s death last May eliminated any reluctance the chain had in supporting
breast cancer causes. In August, Hooters donated $250,000 to the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. The money is part of a $2-million commitment the company has made toward funding breast cancer research.
“No one could ever question our motives now because Kelly Jo was one of our own, and we’re doing this in her name,” McNeil says.