People in the News

Published on August 27th, 2015 |


Buckhead’s gusto! restaurant raising funds for spinal injury patient

Gusto!—the Buckhead fast-casual restaurant opened in 2014 by former NFL quarterback Nate Hybl—has launched “Operation Chayse the Dream” in support of 18-year-old Chayse Wolf, a spinal injury patient in recovery at The Shepherd Center.

The renowned rehabilitation center is across Peachtree Road from gusto!, which is located in the Brookwood Hills neighborhood.


Chayse Wolf is shown in a wheelchair at The Shepherd Center where he was recently visited by a group of family members and friends.

Funds to cover Chayse’s medical expenses will be raised via a GoFundMe page: and a zombie race in October to help Chayse and his family with medical expenses.

Gusto! is kicking off the campaign with a $500 donation of their own and engaging the community with fun, lighthearted rewards for milestones on the way to their fundraising goal of $15,000.

When the gusto! team met Chayse, they immediately saw that he truly defines what it means to live life with “gusto” (enjoyment or vigor in doing something).

Originally from Wilmington, Ohio, Chayse graduated high school with honors this past May. He was the captain of his football team, received All-Region honors, and won two state championships during his high school career.

Chayse’s older brother plays football for the Army’s West Point football team, his younger brother follows his footsteps on a high school varsity team, and his youngest brother is now starting his first year of football.

Chayse says, “Football has been part of the very fabric of our family since I can remember.” He was prepared to attend Lindsey Wilson College this fall on a football scholarship while pursuing a business degree, in hopes of one day fulfilling his dream of opening a gym.

Chayse Smith is show in earlier days in his football uniform.

Chayse Smith is show in earlier days in his football uniform.

On July 12th, Chayse’s plans were instantly derailed when he was involved in an ATV accident during a whitewater rafting trip with his dad, brother, and friends. The ATV rolled over him, fracturing his T-12 and L-1 vertebrae and distorting his spinal column.

After structurally repairing his back with two surgeries and realigning his spinal cord with metal rods, the trauma to his spinal cord resulted in paralysis below his waist. He spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit before being transported to The Shepherd Center for several weeks of acute spinal cord rehab.

“I refuse to let this injury define me,” says Chayse. “I hope by overcoming this tragedy mentally, emotionally, and the good Lord willing, physically, that I will be able to inspire and minister to others overcoming their own hardships. Once I’ve reached the full potential of my recovery, I’ll turn my focus back to obtaining my college degree.”

Chayse exemplifies gusto!’s mission to live life with serious determination and a joyful heart. To help Chayse and his family as he recovers, gusto!’s

The gusto! fast food restaurant on Peachtree Road in the Brookwood neighborhood of south Buckhead.

The gusto! fast food restaurant on Peachtree Road in the Brookwood neighborhood of south Buckhead.

goal for “Operation Chayse the Dream” is to raise at least $15,000 to help cover a small fraction of Chayse’s medical expenses.

To thank those who give, gusto! is committing to the following rewards at each milestone:
• $1,000 – Donors will receive a secret password to get a free frozen yogurt at gusto! on a chosen weekend.
• $2,500 – gusto!’s owner, Nate, and catering manager, Ryan, will greet guests at gusto!’s front door dressed as “Lord of the Ring” characters Gandalf and Frodo during rush hour. Pictures will also be shared with donors.
• $5,000 – the gusto! management team will dress as the news team from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and perform the song, “Afternoon Delight.” A video will be shared with donors.
• $10,000 – Nate will recreate the iconic 1972 Burt Reynolds photo spread from Cosmopolitan. Picture will be shared with donors.
• $15,000 – Nate and General Manager, Boston, will recreate the famous Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley Chippendales audition in the classic Saturday Night Live skit. A video will be shared with donors.

In addition, gusto! is also raising money by encouraging the community to join their team at the Zombie Run on October 24th at the Guardian Center in Perry, Ga., with each member pledging to raise at least $100 for “Operation Chayse the Dream”. Runners will receive a special team t-shirt.

For more details, visit, and join the team “Live Life with Gusto,” or contact

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One Response to Buckhead’s gusto! restaurant raising funds for spinal injury patient

  1. Nate Hybl says:

    Great Cause, and Thanks BuckheadView, for helping us spread the word about ‪‎ChayseTheDream‬!

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