Milan Happy Joe’s Hosts Annual Special Needs Children’s Party PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Local Events
Written by Johanna Smith   
Tuesday, 13 December 2011 09:43

Milan, IL – Milan Happy Joe’s team members will host a special needs party for children from 10am to noon on December 13th at Horace Mann Early Learning Center.  Santa will be on hand to spread holiday cheer and delight to special needs children throughout the Milan area.  Approximately 100 children from Horace Mann Early Learning Center are expected to attend the event.  The first special needs party began in 1972 when Happy Joe Whitty opened his first store in the Village of East Davenport.  Since that first event 39 years ago, nearly 155,000 special needs children have attended parties throughout the 59 store chain.

“We look forward to December and hosting the special needs party each and every year,” says Dave Vanderginst, Milan Happy Joe’s Franchise Owner.  “The party is an opportunity for us to reflect and be thankful for the past year while continuing a long standing tradition our founder, Happy Joe Whitty, started one holiday night in 1972.”
Before opening his first Happy Joe's Pizza & Ice Cream Parlor in the Village of East Davenport, founder Joe Whitty was nearly fired from another pizza chain for sponsoring a party for a group of special needs children without first checking with his boss.  In 1972, on the eve his first restaurant’s opening night , he invited a local priest to bless his business and promised that if he could make enough money to feed his family, he would give something back to the community.  After just a few weeks in business, people were waiting out the door.  True to his word, Joe shut down the restaurant one day a year to have a party for those less fortunate, and required his franchisees to do the same.  Now, 39 years later, nearly 155,000 special needs children have benefited from the parties held throughout the chain over the holiday season.
All media are welcome to join our team members at Horace Mann Early Learning Center located at 3530 38th Ave, Rock Island, IL 61201.
For more information, contact Johanna Smith at 760-458-1218 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
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