Enjoy all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausage with the Easter Bunny at Applebee’s Restaurant of Sault Ste. Marie from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday), while helping 12 hard working Sault Area Careers Center students attend the Business Professionals of America (BPA) National Leadership Conference in Dallas, TX May 4 through May 8.
Meal tickets will cost $5 per person, milk and orange juice will be available for extra money. Raffle baskets will be awarded to winners, one with a children’s bicycle.
Business teachers Heather Suggitt and Kellie Greener teamed up with the restaurant to help students pay for travel, hotel, activities and meals to total $1,500 per student.
It just so happened that Applebee’s Manager Ashley Hedglen’s son, Sault Area High School senior Jared Blakely, was one of the 31 BPA students who attended the 50th Annual Michigan Association State Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids last month. He, too, is saving up to compete in nationals.
“We pay for this,” Hedglen said as a working BPA parent.
She feels Blakely’s experience is worth the cost, pleased he is excelling in the career center class.
“It’s a really good program,” Hedglen said. “He is learning how to work with Excel and has a certificate in Microsoft Word.”
Like many prior generations, Hedglen did not learn about the business world in high school. She is just grateful her son has taken advantage of such an opportunity.
Competitions allow BPA students to attend workshops, participate in open events, and network with peers in global marketing, payroll, computer security, business law, health administration and many more.
In order to compete on the national level, students must participate in multi-chapter activities. Some get involved in fundraising efforts and others do service projects.
Applebee’s sets an example, having hosted numerous fundraising events for over a decade.
Its first fundraiser of the year was for Black Dragon Martial Arts on Saturday, March 20. The karate kids raised approximately $2,500 to help host a national International Icebreaker Challenge competition at the Pullar Center on Saturday, May 14.
“It is just our way to give back,” said General Manager Patrick Nichols. “We provide the pancakes and all the things necessary to do it. They walk in and use the facility, clean-up and leave.”
Some groups bring silent auction items donated by Sault area businesses.
“We have had this place filled to the rafters,” said Nichols. “It has really taken off. That last year, pre-COVID, we probably did a dozen of them. Post-COVID, this is our third one.”
Collaborating with Applebee’s to hold a fundraising event is free. Management is just happy to flip pancakes.
“I used to be a local restaurant owner,” said Nichols of Willabee's Restaurant & Lounge in Brimley. “I have watched a lot of other restaurants go away, so you need somebody to provide the support those restaurants used to provide. I think this is an opportunity to do that.”
Applebee’s once helped a group raise over $4,000 in two-and-a-half-hours.
They hope to do the same tomorrow to ensure 12 hard working Sault Area Careers Center students will be able to compete in the Business Professionals of America (BPA) National Leadership Conference.
Students revving to represent the Sault Area Career Center in Texas include Aurora Corbiere, Claire Erickson, Mackenzie Bell, Hannah Maurer, Abigail Walther, Mackenzie Anderson, Anastasia Williams, Augusta Smith, Delaney Cushman, Paolo Cancelli, Shaelyn Reno, and Jared Blakely.
“I am very excited,” said payroll accounting competitor Mackenzie Anderson. “The last two years we haven’t been able to do this with the coronavirus.”
Business Professionals of America prepares today’s students to be tomorrow’s business professionals.