‘All in’ for the children

Children’s Hospital patient Dalton Waggoner, the face of Twice Daily’s fundraising campaign, poses for a photo with Steven Hostetter, CEO of TriStar Energy, which owns the convenience stores. Photo by John Russell.

A familiar face greets frequent customers at Twice Daily convenience stores—a life-size cardboard cutout of Dalton Waggoner, a patient at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

For five years, Dalton has been the face that customers at the convenience stores associate with all the children they are helping through their purchases and donations.

The 30 Twice Daily and 41 Daily’s locations in Tennessee and Kentucky are operated by TriStar Energy, a committed, ongoing partner of the Children’s Hospital.

“The group of people I work with are amazing in how much they want to support the hospital. The truth is, if you live here long enough, you will need its services. So we’re ‘all in’ to support it,” said TriStar Energy CEO Steven Hostetter.

When Hostetter says “all in,” he means it. Twice Daily employees also have given their time to support the hospital, which includes volunteering at the Iroquois Steeplechase, at the hospital and the annual Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Telethon.

When Dalton was just 2 days old, he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that will require many surgeries over his lifetime and a condition called ectodermal dysplasia, which affects his hair growth and sweat glands.

His smiling cardboard “standee” (as it is known in the marketing world) has encouraged Twice Daily patrons to buy $1 Children’s Miracle Network balloon icons. Now his face is on a display of insulated drink cups decorated with artwork by Children’s Hospital patients. Sold for $3.99 with 89-cent refills, $2 per cup benefits the hospital.

“One of my colleagues had the idea for the first standee, and what an impact that had on balloon sales. We do a new standee of Dalton for each campaign, and he grows a foot every year,” Hostetter said.

TriStar Energy was founded in 2000, a joint venture between Kimbro Oil Company, the Parman Corporation, and Motiva Enterprises. The Kimbro family has supported Vanderbilt since the 1970s, and that commitment continues today in nearly $2 million given by Twice Daily for the Children’s Hospital, making it the largest locally-owned business donor.

Twice Daily hosts the Daily’s Cup, a golf tournament held every year since 2002. All proceeds benefit Children’s Hospital, and more than $1 million has been raised to date. The company is also a longtime sponsor of the 107.5 River of Hope Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon, and is involved with Rally for Kids with Cancer.

“There is no need out there greater than helping a sick child. I don’t think there’s any better use of money. It builds a legacy,” Hostetter said.

Twice Daily has pledged $1 million to Children’s Hospital’s Growing to New Heights Campaign, which will support a four-floor building expansion to ensure care for more children.

Hostetter is also personally committed to the hospital, serving as a member of the Children’s Hospital board since 2012, and chairman since 2013. His wife, Rhonda, volunteers once a week in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

With more than 42 million transactions a year at Twice Daily, Hostetter said supporting the Children’s Hospital is a way to give back to its customers and further serve the community. The convenience industry is only about 50 years old, but Hostetter said it has always been community-minded.

“Our industry hooked its wagon to helping kids right from the start,” he said.

“The reality of the convenience industry is we serve all walks of life, all age groups. We’re right in the middle of society, and we have strong ties to the community. We do philanthropy because we want to give back. It’s from the heart.”

– by Leslie Hill