Pictured: Airren Smith’s daughter & Dai Dai’s older sister

What makes a superhero great is that they always get back up after they fall. They may not have capes or superhuman strength, but there are some real-world superheroes at Papa John’s.

Airren Smith, a Papa John’s shift manager and delivery driver in Memphis, Tennessee, is a real-life superhero. She has been with Papa John’s for nearly six years. Just under a year ago endured the heaviest heartbreak imaginable. After a nine-month battle, she lost her four-year-old son Dai Dai to Neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer found in the adrenal glands.

As a mother, there’s nothing more devasting than losing a child, Airren could’ve let it break her. Instead, she let it inspire her and with the help of Mike Crask, president and founder of the Childhood Cancer Family Fund and her Papa John’s family, she created a toy drive in honor of her son Dai Dai.

Pictured: Team Member Airren Smith

The Childhood Cancer Family Fund is a Louisville based non-profit organization that provides Christmas gifts to children affected by cancer and their families who are staying at St. Jude Hospital’s Target House in Memphis. Mike Crask met Airren a few months after her son Dai Dai’s passing when she contacted him to donate her son’s clothes and toys.

Mike was amazed at Airren’s strength for being able to donate Dai Dai’s belongings and her passion for wanting to do more. She talked about all she wanted to do to help the St. Jude families. Mike decided that the best way to help Airren be involved was to have a city-wide Memphis toy drive in Dai Dai’s honor at Airren’s Papa John’s restaurant.

On Nov. 9 at franchise store #163, Airren and her team held Dai Dai’s Superhero Toy Drive in honor of her son who loved superheroes. Michelle Richards, Airren’s area supervisor, said “The toy drive was a huge success and there was an immense outpouring of love from the community.”

“Airren was so excited throughout the entire day. Just seeing the smile on her face and knowing the pain she has endured is such a testament to how passionate she is about helping the children at St. Jude’s,” said Michelle. “Airren has such a huge heart and wants to bring so much joy to those kids. To see her happy and full of love from the toy drive, made the day so special.”

Michelle said, Airren and all the store team members were so happy with the turnout and how many toys were donated. They plan on holding Dai’s Dai’s Superhero Toy Drive annually in partnership with the Childhood Cancer Family Fund.

If there ever was a real-life superhero, it would be Airren Smith. Her strength and heart for others is truly an inspiration. We are so thankful to have team members like Airren!

For more information on the Childhood Cancer Family Fund, where to donate, and ways to get involved, please visit www.ccff.info.