Athletes help in fundraiser for Kitchen of Hope

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - On Saturday morning, some well know athletes, including paralympian Blake Leeper, were on hand for a pancake breakfast to help Kingsport's Kitchen of Hope. We found out that the community is working to help the kitchen re-open it's doors to help feed the hungry.

Johnnie Mae Swagerty and the New Vision Youth worked hard in the kitchen.

"Blake Leeper has two to-go right," said  Swagerty, from the kitchen.

This is not the first time Swagerty has cooked for, and fed, those in need. She and her mother, pastor Geraldine Swagerty, have been feeding the hungry in Kingsport for more than 13 years through the Full Gospel Mission Kitchen of Hope. A couple of months ago plumbing issues put their hospitality on pause.

"Right now they are in the process of digging up old pipes," said Johnnie Mae Swagerty.

She told us they won't be able to open their doors until the problems are fixed. The plumbing will cost more than $6,000. Johnnie Mae Swagerty called on the community to help by hosting a pancake breakfast at Applebee's. The hotcakes off of the griddle weren't the biggest draw.

"We had former football players and coaches come by and sign autographs," said Johnnie Mae Swagerty

College football players and other Kingsport-native athletes, like paralympian Blake Leeper, helped to bring the crowds.

"This was the solution, everybody coming together, bonding together," said Leeper. "Everybody had a great Christmas, great food and family but there are some people who didn't get the food, and didn't have the shelter over their heads and that's what we've sometime got to think about."

Johnnie Mae Swagerty told us they made more than 1,000 pancakes. She told us she'd like to thank her city for supporting their community.

"Everybody here has been a big help," said Swagerty. "Kingsport and other organizations have came out and really supported the Kitchen of Hope."

We learned the Kitchen of Hope raised more than $2,700 at the fundraiser. The money will all go towards repairs.

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