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It’s clear Jason Schweitzer loves Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The fried chicken loyalist has been eating the crispy dish since he was five years old and fondly remembers trips to the east-end Toronto restaurant every Sunday with his family. At 39, he doesn’t even refer to the restaurant as KFC.
“I call it Kentucky and not KFC because I’m quite old school,” he told CTV News Toronto on Monday.
And his devotion to the fast-food chain’s offerings may only be eclipsed by his love for the person serving them up: a woman named Emilia who’s been working at his local location for nearly 50 years.
“I would always ask my mom ‘Is the funny lady there? Is the funny lady there?” Schweitzer recalled. “She would always hook me up with some French fries, she was always very kind and she was always very funny.”
He says Emilia, who asked that her last name not be shared due to privacy concerns, started working at KFC in 1975 – first at Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street and later at Pape and Sammon avenues – when she was 25 and never looked back.
Originally from Portugal, Schweitzer says he was inspired by her hard work ethic and commitment to making people happy.
So last week, Schweitzer decided to take his fond memories and admiration for Emilia and turn them into a GoFundMe campaign for the now 70-year-old employee.
With an original goal of $2,000, Schweitzer had hoped the money would see Emilia pay her bills more easily while also caring for her health.
Fast forward to Monday, more than 617 people have raised $17,240 for the woman who hasn’t taken a break throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Schweitzer.
CTV News Toronto was on the phone with Schweitzer and Emilia when he was providing her with an update on the campaign as he says she does not own a cell phone or computer. The woman of few words could be heard saying, “God bless you, God bless you.”
“She’s super happy and she’s super delighted,” Schweitzer said. “Just seeing the water in her eyes, it was just great.”
Emilia told Schweitzer that she plans to use the money for her health, transportation and overall well-being.
“If there’s anything else that she decides to do, and she’s got a dream of, she can definitely do that as well,” he said.
And although Schweitzer admits he is currently on a no carb, no sugar diet, he says he still loves visiting “Kentucky” even if it’s just to see his friend’s smiling face.