Whataburger gives $25,000 to Statesman Season for Caring charity


Members of the Olais Vasquez family are dealing with a rare genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

The family needs affordable housing, furnishings, medical supplies, toys, clothes and other items.

Noah Olais isn’t old enough to eat a No. 1 with cheese at Whataburger, yet the 4-month-old and his family have many reasons to be a fan of the Texas-based burger company.

This month, Whataburger kicked off the Statesman’s Season for Caring program with a $25,000 gift that will help Noah and his family as well as the 11 other featured families in this year’s program. Since 2011, Whataburger has donated $178,000 to the Statesman’s charity program.

Season for Caring tells the stories of the 12 featured families and invites the community to donate money, goods and services that help those families as well as hundreds of other people served by the nonprofit agencies that nominated the featured families.

“Thank you again for your valuable service to the community and for the opportunity to participate in this wonderful event,” Melba Harris, with Whataburger media and community relations, wrote when she announced the gift.

Whataburger gives to a number of programs throughout the community, including supporting local schools at fundraising community nights, hosting a Boots and Badges event to connect the community with law enforcement, and collecting holiday donations for Dell Children’s Medical Center at its local restaurants through Dec. 12.

“At Whataburger, we believe in treating one another like family,” said Austinite Lynne Dobson, whose father started Whataburger in 1950 in Corpus Christi. “Austin has been home to our company for more than 50 years, and it’s an honor to support Season for Caring again. I am always amazed at the stories, the strength these families show and all that they endure, especially the children. I am so glad they will get some relief.”

Noah’s family is waiting to hear if he inherited the rare genetic disorder Ehlers-Danlos syndrome from his father, Luis Olais, 21. His 3-year-old sister, Delilah, already has been diagnosed with the syndrome, which causes her tissue to be thin, leading to joint pain and bruising.

The family, which includes mom Keila Vasquez, 19, has many needs, including an affordable apartment and furnishings, medical supplies for Luis Olais, grocery store gift cards, and clothes and toys for the children. Vasquez would like to go to cosmetology school to better support her family. Luis Olais works hard at his job at a barbecue restaurant, but because of his disease, there are limits to what he can do physically.

To find out more about the Olais Vasquez family or to give a gift of one of the items on its wish list, contact SAFE (Stop Abuse for Everyone) Austin: Strong Start Program, the agency that nominated the family, at 512-590-3114 or safeaustin.org.

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