What if you could bite into a juicy burger and taste the cheesy deliciousness of a pizza party from your childhood mixed with the comfort of a Fourth of July summer bar-b-que. Head over to Stacks Burgers in Federal Way and order the #AveryStrong Burger and you can! The best part is as you savor this bacon-pizza-cheeseburger, with a portion of each burger sold going back to the Avery Huffman Defeat DIPG Foundation.
Avery Huffman was a beautiful seven-year-old girl full of energy, laughter, and love. Her parents, Brandon and Amanda, shared that, “Avery lit up a room as soon as she walked into it. Her personality, compassion and her heart radiated wherever she was. She loved to have fun, to play with her brother and sisters, her cousins and her friends.”
On June 30th, 2015 the Huffman family received life-changing news. Avery was diagnosed with an inoperable, cancerous brain tumor. The tumor, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) was a brain tumor found in the pons part of the brainstem on the lower back of the brain, near the top of the spinal cord. The diagnosis came with worsening news, the most heartbreaking that, “there is no cure.”
As Avery fought through 30 radiation treatments over the summer of 2015 her fight and courage never faltered. Unwilling to back down, Avery began first grade at Lakeland Hills Elementary School in the fall. She attended school while still continuing bi-weekly rounds of treatment.
Showing strength that became contagious, the #AveryStrong and #brAvery campaign began. This campaign rippled throughout the community before infecting thousands locally, nationally and even globally. Supporters showed support with t-shirts, wristbands, car stickers and social media tags ensuring the world knew they were with Avery being #AveryStrong.
Avery’s favorite food was pizza. Her diagnosis didn’t stop her from enjoying a good slice of pizza. The family would eat pizza a couple times a week for dinner and Avery would often have it before a radiation appointment or after a family outing. Shortly after her diagnosis, some friends in the community arranged for the Little Caesars’ mascot to make a special delivery. Next thing, Avery was in the store making her own pizza at the invitation of Sumner Little Caesars store owner Sebastian Brost.
As Avery made pizza for the family to enjoy for dinner, the Huffman’s discovered that Brost and his wife not only attended the same college (though years after they had graduated,) but that they had mutual friends. This was also when the Huffman’s found out about Stacks Burgers.
Doing anything with Stacks wasn’t yet in the cards, as the Huffman family focused on Avery’s battle with cancer. 18 months later, in March 2017, the foundation had the Stacks Burgers food truck for their AveryStrong Defeat DIPG Team Trivia Night at HalfLion Brewery. The event raised over $9,000.
Creating the #AveryStrong Burger
When Brost and his marketing director, Scott Valen, shared that they wanted the Huffman’s to design “a burger that people would love, that would be something Avery would have liked and for a portion of each burger sold to go back to the Avery Huffman Defeat DIPG Foundation,” the Huffmans “tried to think of what a good “Avery” burger would look like or taste like.” Brandon said that “Finally, Amanda had that Eureka! moment: A Pizza Burger!”
Bringing the idea of a pizza burger to the Stacks team, their initial thought was to test it out with their Kitchen Chef and make it happen. Using a pizza burger from Australia they saw on Instagram as a reference, the Stacks Burger Chef “used the ingredients the Huffman’s asked us to use, and recreated it,” Valen said. “We ended up adding provolone to help combine the flavors.”
The #AveryStrong burger is a 4 oz. beef patty with bacon, provolone, and ranch with a pizza bun, including pepperoni, mozzarella, and sauce. According to Valen, it’s “the best of both worlds and it’s delicious.”
After the Amanda and Brandon tasted the burger and loved it, they knew that Avery’s siblings had to try it too. On the night of its launch, the family headed over to Federal Way and ordered a round of the burgers for dinner. “The verdict? A HUGE hit,” said Brandon.
As for continuing to support the Avery Huffman Defeat DIPG Foundation after the burger’s debut, Valen assured that “we will always be involved with the Huffman’s and their Foundation; they’re family.”
On February 16, 2016, with her family by her side, Avery took her final breath on earth. Continuing to battle cancer, Avery’s tumor and brain were donated to medical research, “with the hopes of research allowing for further breakthrough and progress in the search for a cure.”
The Huffman’s share that “while we are heartbroken that Avery left us so soon, we are committed, motivated and driven to fight back against the monster that took her life so young and [has] made it our mission to help fulfill our vow to Avery, that we would fight for a cure.”
You can help the Avery Huffman Defeat DIPG Foundation in their mission by purchasing an #AveryStrong burger at Stacks during the month of April. On June 2 at the Auburn Riverside Theater McKenna Webb and area performers are presenting the second annual “Broadway for #BrAvery” show to raise money and awareness for DIPG. September 14 is the foundation’s third annual “Be Strong, Go Gold” Gala.