Duck Donuts helping raise money for Chemo Ducks program


GREENVILLE, Pitt County - The next time you grab a coffee and a doughnut in Greenville or Jacksonville, you can help children going through chemotherapy.

A program called Gabe's Chemo Ducks gives thousands of stuffed ducks to children going through chemo. Now, Duck Donuts is getting involved. The Greenville Duck Donuts has raised more than $300 for Gabe's Ducks. Employees say the goal is to surpass $1,000 before the end of September. "We've had quite a few customers donate $5, we've had several customers donate $2 so any dollar amount is accepted and the more the better," said Kathleen Hoopengardner, assistant manager at the Greenville Duck Donuts. When McKayla Willoughby was just 18 months old, her mom discovered the unthinkable ... a lump in her belly. "I was doing her bath and lotioning her up afterwards and felt a lump in her belly that felt like the size of a golf ball," said Christina Willoughby. "She had a Wilms tumor on her left kidney so its a tumor where the kidney doesn't stop growing while she's still inside." McKayla Willoughby's treatment included surgery that removed her entire kidney along with 18 weeks of chemo. During that time, McKayla received a gift she still has to this day. "We spent a few days in the hospital and child life brought the chemo duck in," Christina Willoughby said. "So we showed her that's where she would get her medicines." The reaction to the fundraiser has been incredible so far, Hoopengardner said. "We just like giving back to the community," Hoopengardner said. "We're gonna try to go above and beyond." As for McKayla ... she's a happy, healthy cancer-free 7-year-old. She still plays with her Chemo Duck and hopes other children going through chemo can get the same comfort from one. "I think it will help them feel better and see what they're going through," McKayla WIlloughby said.

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