When Colorado Springs Dutch Bros. franchise owner Travis Pickern learned that two regular customers were struggling after their daughter was born with a severe heart defect, the emotional story hit home.

Six years ago, Travis and Rita Pickern's youngest son was born with a heart condition that required multiple surgeries and a two-month stay in the neonatal intensive-
care unit.

"When that happens, when you've got a kid that's sick, everything else just falls to the side," said Travis Pickern. "We really understand where they're coming from and how difficult it can be to spend a ton of time in the hospital."

On Tuesday, all four of Pickern's Dutch Bros. Coffee locations in the Springs will donate $2 from the sale of every drink to support parents Jessica DePoy and Dan Morris and "Baby Luna," who is recovering from major surgery to repair an atrioventricular canal defect.

"I know first hand in situations like this there are a lot of expenses that go above and beyond medical bills," Pickern said. "You've got to take two months off work and your mortgage and bills are starting to add up. Anything we can do to help with any expenses, to take their mind off that part so they can focus on their daughter, that's what we're shooting for."

In addition to good karma, Dutch Bros. customers who buy a large-sized drink on "Love for Luna Day" receive a loyalty card that's just one stamp shy of a free drink.

Baby Luna, who is 5 months, underwent surgery July 10 and continues to heal at home with her parents and their 5-year-old daughter Lyla.

"Her surgery was rough, but all the medical professionals keep saying she's a rock star," DePoy said. "She's amazing; people are just drawn to her."

Love for Luna Day in the Springs is among a roster of fundraising campaigns held throughout the year by the company, founded by dairy-farming brothers in southern Oregon in 1992.

In honor of founder Dane Boersma, who died in 2009 of Lou Gehrig's disease, stores designate one day a year during which all proceeds go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Each retail location also reinvests 1 percent of gross annual sales into the local community, said Jennifer Wheatley, a company spokesperson based in Grants Pass, Ore.

"One of the big things we work on is being part of the community and bonding with the community," Wheatley said. "We work closely with baristas on the ground who are paying attention in line to what's happening with their customers."

With 229 stores in seven Western states, Dutch Bros. is the largest privately held drive-through coffee chain in the U.S.


Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364