Dave Thomas

Founder of Wendy’s and The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

Have you ever eaten a hamburger at Wendy’s? The man who opened that first Wendy’s hamburger restaurant (and the 6,500 other Wendy’s restaurants) is Dave Thomas. Thomas was an extremely successful business man – before Wendy’s merged with another fast food restaurant chain in 2006. It was making almost $2.5 billion in sales – that’s a lot of hamburgers.

Thomas wanted to use some of the money he made from Wendy’s to help others, especially children. Thomas loved kids – he even named his restaurant chain after one of his own kids! But the kids he cared about most were those who do not have their own families.

Thomas was adopted, and he devoted much of his life to helping other kids get adopted. The truth is, lots of people (over 81 million) think about adopting a child, but never do. If only one in 500 of these people actually adopted a child, all of the kids waiting in foster care would have permanent homes. Thomas was so passionate about this issue, the President of the United States asked him to help spread the word about adoption! Thomas even got the U.S. Postal Service to create an adoption stamp.

Thomas didn’t just talk about adoption – he started an organization called the Dave Thomas Foundation to help foster kids like our friend Basil find forever homes. As of January 2015, the Foundation has helped over 4,500 foster kids get adopted.  The Foundation works hardest for the children that have been waiting the longest to be adopted, and whom many consider to be unadoptable. In fact, foster children who are referred by the Foundation’s “Wendy’s Wonderful Kids” program are three times as likely to get adopted. 70% of these kids are over the age of 8, 30% have lived in 6 or more foster homes, and 50% have been in foster care for over four years. Some are just waiting to age out of foster care at age 18 or 21, and have given up on the dream of a permanent family.

Thomas focused on one thing that he was extremely passionate about – adoption – and he was able to make a huge difference in thousands of people’s lives through his generosity and devotion to helping foster kids.

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