HOME / Food
Published on:

Little Caesars founder Mike Ilitch—a military veteran—instilled a deep appreciation for servicepeople within Little Caesars.

In 2006, Ilitch founded the Little Caesars Veterans Program, which provides veterans and Gold Star families financial incentives to open a Little Caesars franchise of their own. In addition to offering financial incentives, Little Caesars donates $10,000 to an organization of the franchisee’s choosing that supports veterans and active-duty service members. 

In 2019, Little Caesars strengthened its commitment to Ilitch’s promise to help those who serve by partnering with the Charles Humphrey Keating IV (C4) Foundation, which offers customized neuroscience-based programs designed to help Navy SEAL families overcome the unique stressors that they endure.  

The C4 Foundation was established after decorated Navy SEAL Charles Humphrey Keating IV (known by the nickname “C4”) was tragically killed in the line of duty in Telskuf, Iraq. His family created the nonprofit in honor of his memory and later acquired a 560-acre ranch in San Diego to serve as a sanctuary for SEALs and their families. 

“It’s important to ensure that military families and service personnel have the time they need to reunite, reconnect and reestablish their bonds,” said Bryan Ketelhut, Director of U.S. Development at Little Caesars. 

Recently, family and friends of C4 visited Detroit and were recognized by the Detroit Tigers and Little Caesars. As part of the event, C4’s fellow SEAL and friend, Kelly Cooper, threw the ceremonial first pitch of the July 27 game versus the San Diego Padres. “I’ve never done anything like this before,” said Cooper. “I hope I can bring awareness to the C4 foundation through this so I can spread the word on how wonderful, magical and extremely important this foundation and their mission is to our Navy SEAL families.” 

C4 was an accomplished athlete who was passionate about family and community. He decided to join the military after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was given the nation’s second-highest award for extraordinary valor in combat—for his courageous actions during an attack two months before his death.  

“It’s our hope that our charitable donations, along with spreading awareness of this great organization, will help elevate the C4 Foundation and its network of elite warriors,” said Ketelhut. “We’re honored to support a program dedicated to helping people who have given us so much.”

Today, there are hundreds of veteran-owned Little Caesars stores across the country. The latest store to open through the Veterans Program is owned by military veterans Mechelle and Thomas Fitzgerald in Marshfield, Missouri.