Competitive Eater, Hungry Bear Beats the Pizza Challenge

Competitive Eater, David “Hungry Bear” Haines came all the way from Brisbane, Australia to take on The Dons Pizza Challenge!

He barely squeezed in the last bite before the 20 minute time was up!

Connect with Hungry Bear on Instagram @hungrybearbne and on Facebook at facebook.com/HungryBearBNE

We’re looking for other competitive eaters out there to step forward and take on The Dons Pizza Challenge!

Hungry Bear Visits The Dons to Take on The Pizza Challenge Hungry Bear Eyes Pizza Challenge Hungry Bear Ready to Eat the Pizza Challenge Hungry Bear Beats the Pizza Challenge

The Dons’ Pizza Opens Hearts With Redskins Serve-N-Sign

By Jason S Rufner, Viva Loudoun
Original Article – November 30, 2015

Kirk Cousins and Kedric Golston Serve Pizza

Showing teamwork behind the counter are Washington Redskins Kirk Cousins (green shirt) and Kedric Golston (yellow shirt). The two were among eight Redskins celebrities to donate their time serving pizzas and signing autographs at The Dons’ Wood-Fired Pizza in Sterling on Nov. 30, benefiting the Open Hearts Foundation. (Photo © Jason S Rufner/Viva Loudoun)


Sterling, Va. (November 30, 2015) — As Kirk Cousins has been known to ask, “You like that?!?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding and emphatic Yes.

There’s everything to like. Charity. Dignity. Opportunity. Community. Human beings helping each other, wanting in return only a mutual realization of success and sense of purpose.

That’s the goal of The Dons’ Wood-Fired Pizza in the Cascades Marketplace in Sterling, Virginia, which hosted its annual Serve-N-Sign Nov. 30 featuring seven current and one former Washington Redskins football players serving up piping hot pizza slices, pouring cold drinks and happily chatting with hundreds of star-struck burgundy-clad customers.

Will Compton and Adam Hayward make pizzas

Zarou hinted that Will Compton and Adam Hayward might have a second career with The Dons’ if this football thing doesn’t work out. (Photo © Aaron Wyche/Viva Loudoun)

The evening generated more than $3,000 in proceeds to directly benefit the Open Hearts Foundation, a locally based outreach charity which seeks to serve the needs of underprivileged and at-risk youth across Loudoun County, as well as providing educational and technological support to poverty-stricken regions of Africa.
Some 920 pizza slices were handed out to more than 300 hungry visitors, who braved the nipping cold and drizzling rain for the chance to be served by their heroes.

So much to like. Captain Kirk was among the event’s guest celebrities, dishing up pizza and giving broad smiles to his many adoring fans. He took a moment to answer his own hypothetical question.

“It’s a lot of fun to see the fans with smiles on their faces,” said Cousins, participating in pizza establishment’s nine-year-old event for the fourth time. “It’s a wonderful activity to do with my teammates and support the community. It’s a great experience and it makes a difference in a positive way.”

The quarterback was joined behind the counter by teammates Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse, Nick Sundberg, Will Compton, Trent Murphy, Adam Hayward and former teammate Rocky McIntosh, now on the football staff of Oakton’s Flint Hill School. Several of those guys are frequent volunteers at The Dons’ Serve-N-Sign event; a few were first-timers.

Kirk Cousins and Kedric Golston Serve Pizza

Kirk Cousins’ and Kedric Golston’s smiles were a reflection of those on the faces of the fans as they were served pizza by the football stars inside The Dons’. (Photo © Aaron Wyche/Viva Loudoun)

“Hey, how you doin’? Come on over!” exclaimed Cousins excitedly to one fan he recognized.

“Great shirt,” complimented Compton to a woman sporting a Skins no. 21 jersey of the dearly departed Sean Taylor. “What would you like to drink?”

The Skins even mustered up politeness for the poor fellow in the New York Giants windbreaker.

Golston has worked with The Dons’ charity event every single year since the pizzeria’s owner, Waleed Zarou, first held it. He has been instrumental in bringing fellow Redskins with him to the delicious charity benefit.

“Waleed’s just trying to give back, both domestically and abroad. He’s all about serving others,” said the veteran nose tackle, a resident of Ashburn, amid fulfilling requests for pepperoni or sausage. “We have it so well here in the U.S., sometimes you can take for granted what you have. This holiday season, this gives us a chance to help somebody, and that makes you feel good on the inside.”

Zarou has become friendly with several Redskins since initiating the event almost a decade ago. He expressed his appreciation for the players lending their time and their notoriety to aid the cause of Open Hearts.

“I think it speaks to their character, the caliber of men they are, using the platform they have to reach the community,” the business owner said. “They don’t have a lot of time during the season, but they take it as a serious responsibility and do right by it. You can talk about doing something, but actions speak louder than words. They demonstrate by their actions that they care, they care enough to come out to this little pizza place in Loudoun County and give two hours of their time.

Rocky McIntosh Autographs

Sleeves were one of many items to receive a Redskin’s autograph throughout the evening. (Photo © Aaron Wyche/Viva Loudoun)

“Plus they really enjoy themselves, and that means a lot to me,” Zarou continued. “They even jumped in the kitchen and just about took over the place. They got the knack pretty quick for making pizzas.”
After an hour of dishing up The Dons’ unique wood-fired pizza topped with choice of meats or vegetables, the professional athletes adjourned to a long table out the restaurant’s side door where a parade of fans sought autographs and a snippet of conversation.
The Dons’ event also included a raffle promoting many of the services and products of its sponsors, such as Gold’s Gym, i9 Sports, Dulles Golf, Giant Food and Sportrock Climbing Center.

The event is an extension of Zarou’s personal Christianity-guided philosophy. A deacon at Sterling’s Calvary Temple Church and a chaplain under the guise of the International Fellowship of Chaplains, he is a veteran of charitable causes in war-torn regions of Central and South America, and personally delivers computer and other equipment to villages in Kenya, supporting schools and training programs.

Closer to home, Open Hearts works with local governments to reach kids at increased likelihood to become involved in gangs, drugs and other criminal or dangerous activity.

Open Hearts is a non-profit 501(c)3 charitable organization run entirely by volunteers and seeks to help children realize better lives, whether locally in Loudoun or globally in Africa. It was begun by Zarou and fellow entrepreneurs Tony Schwartz and Danny Johnson.

Trent Murphy Autographs for Redskins Fans

The look on Trent Murphy’s face appears to convey a measure of amazement as yet another fan wants him to autograph a picture of himself. (Photo © Aaron Wyche/Viva Loudoun)

“Open Hearts provides academic, vocational and spiritual training both here and abroad. We have an organization in place to help little kids all the way up through young adults,” Schwartz said. “Having the Redskins involved has been absolutely fantastic for us. Each year, the fans have come and they’ve been generous. It’s great to see the folks in Loudoun County recognize that they’ve been given a lot, and they’re looking for opportunities to give back.”

Zarou noted the smiles on the faces of kids streaming through the pizza line, getting to look in the eye the same players they’d admired on TV.

“You can’t go wrong serving your fellow man. That’s what we do this for,” Zarou said. “This is what Christmas is all about.”

Preparations for next year’s event at The Dons’, including retaining sponsorships from vendors, requisitioning a football signed by the Redskins team and extending invitations to other players and local celebrities, are already underway.

The Dons' Pizza Christmas 2015 Redskins Guests with Owner Waleed Zarou

Waleed Zarou (in foreground, second from right) expressed gratitude to (from left to right) Will Compton, Trent Murphy, Rocky McIntosh, Nick Sundberg, Frank Kearse, Adam Hayward and Kedric Golston for all they have done for their, and our, community. (Photo © Aaron Wyche/Viva Loudoun)

The Dons Receives 2015 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence

Redskins Serve Pizza, Sign Autographs for Charity

By Aaron Wyche, Viva Loudoun
Original Article – January 4, 2015

Sterling, VA (Jan. 4, 2015) – During the holiday season, it’s not uncommon to witness a line of hundreds of people camped outside a storefront eagerly awaiting it’s doors to open.   Although, with no major electronic chains or retail superstores to anchor the Cascades Marketplace in Sterling, VA, a barricaded street to accommodate such a line that wrapped around the building may spark one’s curiosity.

Pictured from left to right: Isaako Aaitui, Alfred Morris, Kedric Golston, Waleed Zarou, Logan Paulsen, Trent Murphy, Spencer Long.

Pictured from left to right: Isaako Aaitui, Alfred Morris, Kedric Golston, Waleed Zarou, Logan Paulsen, Trent Murphy, Spencer Long.


On a mild mid-December evening such an event took place.  The draw of the evening was pizza; not just any pizza, but Dons’ Wood Fired Pizza served by Washington Redskins players!   This year’s servers were Redskin favorites, Alfred Morris, Kedric Golston, Logan Paulsen, Shawn Lauvao, Trent Murphy, Spencer Long,
and Isaako Aaitui.  

Kedric Golston seasoning one of the close to 300 pizzas served during the benefit.

Kedric Golston seasoning one of the close to 300 pizzas served during the benefit.

The free Christmas dinner was sponsored to support the Open Heart Foundation, an organization whose mission is to help impoverished people improve their quality of life through academic, vocational and spiritual training.  Open Heart uses the “teach a man to fish” philosophy to help people around the world obtain a better education, learn job skills and become business owners.  Contributions have led to the establishment of 40 churches and a K-12 vocational school system across Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Calvary Temple Ministries performed a parade and performance to entertain patrons prior to the pizza and autographs.

Calvary Temple Ministries entertained the patrons with a parade and performance prior to the pizza and autograph session.

The evening’s host and owner of Dons’, Waleed Zarou has sponsored this benefit for 6 years now.  “I believe in directing one’s energies upwards,” Zarou said. “With so many blessings, it’s (our) responsibility to give back to both empower and impact the community.”  Asked how he got the Redskins involved, Zarou shared, “Kedric and I became friends through our spiritual community.   He loved the idea and it sold itself amongst his peers.”  Said Zarou, “these players are considered role models in our community, and though each of their reasons to participate may differ, they too believe in the impact of community service.”

To learn more about Open Heart please visit, www.openheartsinternational.org.  In addition to financial donations, print and electronic vocational training resources are gladly accepted.

Pictures from the 2014 Christmas Dinner

For those who were at our Christmas Dinner, please have a look at the photos from the event.

View our Flickr album.

2014 Christmas Dinner

2014 Free Christmas Dinner

Redskin Players Serve Pizza, Sign Autographs at Charity Event

Alfred Morris Serves Pizza

Redskin Players Serve Pizza, Sign Autographs at Charity Event by Mike Stancik, Loudoun Times Mirror – December 23, 2013

With the Washington Redskins struggling with a less than stellar record, it isn’t necessarily providing much hope on the field during the holiday season. But off the field, players are still taking advantage of every opportunity to give back to the fanbase that has supported them unconditionally.

A fine example of this was evident at The Dons’ Wood-Fired Pizza in Sterling on Dec. 17, as several players were on hand to serve free pizza and sign autographs.

“It’s the holiday season, so it means even more to give back to the community as players,” linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “These people support us all year, regardless of our record, so tonight is the least we can do to show our gratitude.”

Hundreds of fans showed up on a chilly night to eat some tasty, albeit free pizza while also getting the chance to interact with the players that are shown on their televisions on Sundays. Kerrigan, Alfred Morris, Will Montgomery, Kedric Golston, and Kirk Cousins were all in attendance.

“Being in things like this during the holiday season, everyone wants to help out in any kind of way,” Golston explained. “I met Waleed about 8 years ago and I enjoy partnering with him for a great and noble cause. I love having my teammates out here as well, it’s definitely a blessing,”

Waleed Zarou, the manager of The Dons’, has been running this specific event for five years now. It all started with a strong friendship between Golston and Zarou, who said they gave out a record number of pizzas this year.

Kirk Cousins Signs Autographs

“These [players] are considered heroes in our society in many ways, they’re looked up to, and they know that,” Zarou said. “They use that platform to serve others, and these guys are great examples of that. When they’re having fun, others are having fun, and you can just feel that feeling in the air tonight.”

This year, the event was designed to support the Open Heart Foundation, an organization that Zarou and fellow businessmen have been running for about a year. The foundation’s mission is to continue to develop an educational system as well as a church system in western Africa, a place Zarou has been visiting for 14 years. 40 churches have already been established and a K-through-12 schooling system has been put in place.

While that project is a work in progress, the immediate goal of providing Redskin fans with a memorable event was a clear success. For players like Morris, who has been at nearly every charity event this season, it means a lot to interact with the fans that wear his No. 46.

“To be honest, I get as much out of it as all of these people,” Morris said candidly. “Even with our record being what it is, tonight shows how much impact we can have on the community.”

The Dons Gift Cards


Now through Christmas, we’re running a special promotion at Costco!

Purchase Two $25 dollar value gift cards for only $29.99.

Cards are available at the Sterling, Leesburg, and Chantilly locations.

Offer Ends Christmas 2013

2013 Christmas Dinner

2013 Dons Christmas DInner

The Dons 2012 Christmas Pizza Dinner