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Man spends 24 hours in Toronto Denny's after losing bet, raises almost $6K for charity

Juan Delgado's "Make Denny's Great Again: When Bad Decisions Go Right" image for his 24-hour fundraiser at downtown Toronto Denny's. (Courtesy of Juan Delgado) Juan Delgado's "Make Denny's Great Again: When Bad Decisions Go Right" image for his 24-hour fundraiser at downtown Toronto Denny's. (Courtesy of Juan Delgado)
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At first, Juan Delgado agreed to spend 24 hours inside a Dundas St. Denny’s as a consequence of losing in his fantasy football league. 

Delgado told CTV News Toronto Tuesday he joined the league as they were looking for a 12th person, and thought it’d be fun despite not having participated in years.

“I didn’t really take the penalty seriously, because I’m like, ‘They’re not actually going to make anybody go 24 hours at a Denny’s – that’s silly,’” he said. “But the debate on the [league’s] thread was crazy. They’re like, ‘For the integrity of the league, we must uphold our penalties.’”

“I realized I couldn’t get out of it, and then thought to myself, ‘Okay, this is gonna be 24 hours. It’s a waste of a day. What do I do to make it worthwhile?” he added.

After thinking of various “creative, silly ideas,” Delgado says it dawned on him to turn his penalty into a positive action and fundraise for a good cause. That’s when the ‘Making Denny’s Great Again’ fundraiser for Wagner Green YMCA was born.

“I was lucky enough to do a walkthrough of the Wagner Green YMCA in the summer, and I was just so impressed by the work that they do that when I was thinking of a charity or place to put the money towards, it just seemed to make sense,” Delgado said, noting the branch is also nearby the Denny’s on Dundas.

Juan Delgado with Nelson Borges, Director of Youth Outreach and Intervention at the YMCA of Greater Toronto. (Courtesy of Juan Delgado)

24 HOURS AT DENNY'S

After clearing the plan with the restaurant, Delgado kicked off his 24 hours at the breakfast chain on Saturday night, at around 8 p.m.

“I thought I would start the eating with something light, and kind of pace myself, you know, not to go too crazy. Well, the first thing I had was mozzarella sticks – and I’m lactose intolerant,” he said.

During his 24-hour stay, Delgado said he went on to dine on chicken tenders – “which I lovingly call chicken tendies” –, a smoothie in the middle of the night, a turkey sandwich, french toast, soup, hashbrowns, more chicken “tendies,” and a steak dinner to wrap up the event.

Delgado said his friends came over to support him throughout the night, including Run The Burbs star Andrew Phung, who dropped by with his son.

Outside of visits, Delgado said he only dozed off for about 45 minutes. He recalled running into the after-party crowd late on Saturday night and the Sunday morning brunch crowd, and says he also got to connect with restaurant staff, who gave him all his food and drink for free come the end of his stay.

Within the first 24 hours, Delgado raised $1,000.

Now, the fundraiser is sitting at $5,736, and Delgado hopes he can cross the $6,000 mark before the end of the week, when he plans on taking the page down.

“The fundraising aspect was beautiful, and the amount I raised was unbelievable, I’m still flabbergasted that the community was able to support in such a way, but the staff there also made it just that much better,” he said.

Nelson Borges, the Director of Youth Outreach and Intervention at Wagner Green YMCA, told CTV News Toronto in an emailed statement that it’s “amazing” to see how much support Delgado had received with the fundraiser, and that they are focused on creating more housing options for youth.

“When young people are ready to leave the shelter, these funds will allow us to secure many supplies that they need to transition to independent living and move into their new place,” Borges said.

“Also, donations allow us to provide more on-site programming focused on increasing their skills, building their confidence, preparing them to living independently, and building connections in the community," he added.

"What started off as a lost bet has transformed into something meaningful for the youth who find support at the Wagner Green YMCA.” 

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