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Iowa TikTok star enjoys home-cooked beignets through social media connection

Jessica Hiatt, who has been sharing her battle with stage 4 colon cancer on social media, has over 500,000 followers on TikTok.

AMES, Iowa — A Los Angeles-based chef travelled almost 2,000 miles to make a meal he'll never forget, when he cooked fresh beignets for an Iowan battling cancer. The connection began in an unlikely place--TikTok.

Jessica Hiatt has been documenting her battle with stage 4 colon cancer, sharing updates on her treatment with over 500,000 followers. She shared some of her bucket list items with her audience. One of them—she wanted to try New Orleans-style beignets.

That's where Chris Bautista comes in. He owns and operates "The Beignet Truck" out of Los Angeles. Bautista found Hiatt's TikTok, and he immediately wanted to help.

"I don't have a lot of money, I don't have a lot of funds, but what I do have is a beignet business where I make beignets from scratch, and I'm really good at it," he said in a TikTok.

Bautista started a GoFundMe to help fund a visit to Iowa to make those beignets fresh for Hiatt. On March 12, the two finally met in-person in Ames. Bautista made enough beignets for all of Hiatt's family and friends, but of course, the woman of the hour got the first taste.

"They were delicious," Hiatt said. "Fresh out of the oven, and they tasted like heaven."

After a day of celebrating, Hiatt said she was grateful to see so many people come together for her special day. 

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"I did not expect it to get this big, but I'm enjoying it. I love seeing my friends and my family and the outpouring of love from everybody around the world," she said.

And Bautista—he's proud of his work, but none of it would've been possible without a little help from thousands of people online.

"This whole experience has been such a beautiful way to show the better side of TikTok, the positivity," Bautista said. "A lot of people love Jessica and love her message, her positivity and strength. So the response was overwhelmingly positive."

Bautista didn't just come with food, either. He took the leftover money from his GoFundMe and donated it to Jessica and her family.

Hiatt's family is taking donations like those to help with her cancer treatment. A link to donate to that can be found here.

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