Last Wednesday, Dec. 23, popular Atlanta-based Philly cuisine eatery Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks along with The David & Derrick Hayes Foundation partnered with I Will Survive Inc. to provide holiday cheer for two deserving Atlanta women battling cancer.

The two women, Zaneta Arnold of Lithonia, Ga., and Rogere Huff of Austell, Ga., welcome Hayes and his team into their homes, where they were treated to Christmas gifts and a holiday meal for their entire families.

Having experienced the pain of losing various family members to cancer, Hayes said he knows all too well the difficulties and hardships of these times. More importantly, Hayes said he made a promise to his father, Dave — the restaurant’s namesake — before he died of cancer that the younger Hayes would change his life and create an impactful legacy.

“This holiday this year is a little different, you know? We’re battling through COVID, we’re going through the biggest financial crisis in the United States, and I feel like if anybody has some leverage in life where they can make a [statement] to help another family out, that’s what this should be about,” Hayes said. “It’s important for black businesses to give back to the communities that support us because they are what keep us thriving and alive.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the community’s support,” he added. “And I honestly believe as a people we are stronger together, I believe in moving in love, and using my leverage & platform to support the people.”

The spread of Big Dave’s holiday cheer did not stop there. Earlier in the week, Hayes presented his longest standing employee of five years with a percentage share of Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks. Hayes said he planned to share in the wealth of the company’s growth with six additional employees this holiday season.

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