Rising to the Occasion, a Hut Hero Emerges

The Rescue

It started like any other day at work for Shift Leader, Stephanie Mayes. She greeted her team as they prepared to open store #316311 in Henderson, KY, for a busy day ahead. What she didn’t expect was that she was about to do something she’d never done in her 35 years with Pizza Hut – she was about to save a life.

After running to the bank to make a deposit, she returned to the store to find one of her Team Members in distress and unresponsive in the dining room of the restaurant. Immediately, Stephanie began to administer CPR, and was able to get the Team Member breathing again while someone called 911.

“She was fine when we left,” Stephanie shared. “We left for the bank around 10am and we weren’t gone more than 15 minutes. By the time the ambulance was pulling out of the parking lot for the hospital, it was 10:30. It all happened really fast.”

Paramedics arrived and took the Team Member to the hospital. Within the week, she was awake and asking for Stephanie in order to say thank you.

Stephanie added, “It was incredible. Her daughter called me that morning as I was getting ready for work. Normally she texts me, so when the phone rang I didn’t know what to expect. But she said, ‘I have someone here who wants to talk to you.’ She had insisted that they call me so that she could say thank you. I was a wreck!”

Less than a month later, the Team Member returned to work.

“The paramedics said that if Stephanie had not done CPR and kept the oxygen flowing, she wouldn’t have made it,” said Sarah Demko, Stephanie’s friend and Pizza Hut Area Coach, “Stephanie literally saved her life.”

Stephanie says she was “just doing my best to do my best.” Having learned CPR more than 20 years ago, and only taking the course because it was offered free from her son’s preschool, she never formally practiced those skills again. Yet, like an instinct, it came right back to her.

Word of Stephanie’s heroism quickly got around, and Stephanie was honored with a Hut Hero Award. In addition to receiving a letter of recognition signed by Pizza Hut President, Kevin Hochman, and the rest of the leadership team, Stephanie was able to enjoy a few days of paid time off, and the peace of mind that came from knowing her friend and fellow coworker would be all right.

The Heart of the Hut

It’s not just Stephanie’s bravery that makes her a celebrated member of the Pizza Hut family, it’s her way of making others feel welcome, her community service and her amazing pizza-making skills. In fact, Stephanie is quite the competitor in Pizza Hut’s annual Pizza Championship, a friendly competition among Team Members across the U.S. who come out to prove they are the fastest and most accurate pizza maker across the brand. Stephanie came in third overall in 2014, took home the title of Pizza Champion in 2015 and even made it back to the finals in 2016!

“Some of my earliest memories are when we worked together many years ago,” says Dawn Cameron, Pizza Hut Restaurant General Manager. “She is a beast on the maketable and I noticed even way back then to stay out of her way!”

When recounting her 35 years with the company, Stephanie reveals it’s a combination of the family atmosphere and the scheduling flexibility that keep her here at Pizza Hut. Starting out as a Team Member, working up to Assistant Manager and then on to Restaurant General Manager, Stephanie eventually asked to step back into the role of Shift Leader. This move allowed her to spend quality time with her son, in addition to playing flute in her church praise band, teaching youth group and going on annual mission trips.

“Steph has a heart of gold and always has the best intentions,” adds Dawn Cameron. “She will stay with you through good times and bad. There are so many things I could say about Steph, but the ones that stand out are loyalty, dedication and steadfastness.” And we might also add – heroic!

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