Duck Donuts Launches National Partnership with Gabe's Chemo Duck Program at Penn State Children's Hospital on March 24

Share Article

Duck Champions Unite to offer huggable hope to pediatric cancer patients as Duck Donuts Franchising Company and Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program launch their official partnership at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

On Friday, March 24, Duck Donuts Franchising Company and Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program will launch their official partnership at a press conference at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

“Our partnership will enable children’s hospitals nationwide to offer a Chemo Duck to every child who needs one. We hope to make a family’s pediatric cancer journey a little easier one duck at a time."

WHAT: PRESS CONFERENCE ON FRIDAY, MARCH 24. Duck Donuts Franchising Company and Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program will launch their official partnership at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

WHO: Russ DiGilio, founder and owner of Duck Donuts Franchising Company LLC, headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., has announced the company’s first official national partnership as the major sponsor of Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. Chemo Duck is a nonprofit organization that provides education, comfort, and huggable hope to children living with cancer using medical play, an adorable stuffed duck, and therapeutic tools.

“We are extremely excited and proud to be partnering with another ‘super duck,’” says Chemo Duck Founder and CEO Louise Sipos. “As one of the best and fastest-growing franchising companies in the country, Duck Donuts is in the perfect position to support our mission as we strive to make a difference in the lives of children with cancer.”

Chemo Ducks are a developmentally appropriate tool that child life specialists use to help explain mediports or Broviac® and Hickman® lines to children receiving chemotherapy or other medications. The ducks become an instant friend to the children who receive them, and even come with matching bandanas for the duck and child,” says Ashley Kane, Penn State Children’s Hospital child life program manager. “We value having this resource available to provide extra comfort to kids experiencing an otherwise very difficult and scary time. Penn State Children’s Hospital uses Chemo Ducks in both our outpatient oncology and infusion clinic and our inpatient hematology and oncology pediatric unit.”

“Duck Donuts places a strong emphasis on the importance of contributing to the communities we call home through our #QuackGivesBack initiative. Our Chemo Duck partnership is franchise-wide and provides Chemo Ducks to pediatric cancer patients in children’s hospitals around the U.S.,” says DiGilio. “It’s shocking to learn that pediatric cancer is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14. We are honored to have ‘duck champions unite’ to bring a little more joy, happiness, and huggable hope into the lives of these children.”

WHEN: FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 10:30 A.M.

WHERE: Penn State Children’s Hospital, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA – Media Room (Second Floor, above the Main Hospital Entrance). Duck Donuts and coffee will be served.


  •     Russ DiGilio, Founder & Owner, Duck Donuts Franchising Company LLC
  •     Louise (Lu) Sipos, Founder & CEO, Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program, Nashville
  •     Gabe Sipos, Teenager, Cancer Survivor, and Inspiration Behind Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program
  •     Lily Jordan, Four Diamonds Champion, Camp Hill Middle School student, THON Child, and Community Hero
  •     Sheri Collins, Deputy Secretary, Office of Technology and Innovation, PA Department of Community and Economic Development
  •     Michael Pries, Dauphin County Commissioner
  •     David Black, President, Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC
  •     Ashley M. Kane, Manager, Child Life Program, Penn State Children’s Hospital
  •     Nurse, Penn State Children’s Hospital


  •     In 2016, an estimated 10,380 children under the age of 15 were diagnosed with cancer in the U.S.
  •     Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday.
  •     Cancer is the most common cause of death by disease for children in America.
  •     In 2016, nearly 1,250 children younger than 15 died of cancer.
  •     Worldwide, every 3 minutes a family is told their child has been diagnosed with cancer.
  •     1 in 5 children with cancer will die of their disease.

“When I met Lu Sipos and saw what an incredible difference her organization is making in the lives of pediatric cancer patients, I knew we wanted to join forces to make sure every child and family facing the unimaginable would have access to a Chemo Duck. The education and comfort that comes along with the therapeutic stuffed yellow duck in hospital scrubs encourages healing,” says DiGilio.

Penn State Children’s Hospital, a nationally recognized leader in pediatric cancer care, is one of more than 120 hospitals worldwide that uses the adorable stuffed duck. So far, more than 30,000 Chemo Ducks have been produced and distributed.

“Our partnership will enable children’s hospitals nationwide to offer a Chemo Duck to every child who needs one. We hope to make a family’s pediatric cancer journey a little easier one duck at a time,” says DiGilio. "Follow the new partnership at #DuckChampionsUnite."

Duck Donuts was founded in 2006 by Russ DiGilio in Duck, North Carolina. His intention? To solve a family vacation problem: “Our family wanted a place to buy warm, delicious & made to order!™ donuts, and when we couldn’t find one, we decided to start our own.”

By 2011, Duck Donuts had expanded to four Outer Banks locations and the donut business was so successful that DiGilio was continuously approached about franchise opportunities and by fans who begged for a Duck Donuts in their communities. The first franchise opened in Williamsburg, VA, in 2013, and there are now 35 open franchise locations and 149 signed contracts.

Duck Donuts emphasizes the importance of giving back to the local community through their #QuackGivesBack initiatives every month. “Our mission is twofold,” says DiGilio, “to serve the most amazing warm, delicious, and made-to-order donuts, and to contribute to the communities we call home.”

Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is a Nashville-based nonprofit organization established in 2004 to provide education and comfort to children living with cancer through medical play using therapeutic tools. The goal of the program is to enable hospital staff and parents to prepare children for chemotherapy treatment and eliminate the fear of the unknown.

Chemo Duck is a stuffed yellow duck dressed in blue hospital scrubs with a bandana around its head, a chemotherapy port on its chest and an immobilizer on his arm. In a gentle, age-appropriate manner, children learn what to expect during cancer treatment and have a friend to share the experience. In turn, children can use Chemo Duck to help friends, siblings and classmates to understand and empathize with their experience.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Anne Deeter Gallaher
since: 06/2014
Follow >
Duck Donuts
since: 12/2009
Like >
Follow us on
Visit website