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Better giving through chili
Boys Like Girls headline local benefit cook-off
Boys Like Girls

THREE YEARS ago, local rock singer Ginger Fawcett and fiancee Danny Mitchell decided to create an annual, public event as a fun way to raise money for area citizens in need.

Inspired by the Help Save One of Our Own Foundation, Fawcett and Mitchell drew on the two most time-honored ways to attract folks of all ages: live entertainment and comfort food.

Soon, the Savannah Chili Bowl was born. One part chili cook-off and one part free outdoor concert, the event has grown in scope and profile. This Sunday afternoon in Forsyth Park (weather permitting, of course), one can avail themselves of at least 15 different types of chili (prepared by both well-known restaurants and individual teams), hot dogs, chicken fingers, french fries and drinks (both soft and “adult”).

While they sample the wares, they can listen to Fawcett’s well-known party band Liquid Ginger and local country crooner Jason Courtenay, among others. Notably, for the first time since this event’s inception, an internationally-known, chart-topping act headlines the bill: pop-punk and emo darlings Boys Like Girls (or at least their frontman and lead guitarist, who play a 45-minute “unplugged” set at 3:30 p.m.).


Here's an acoustic duo performance of one of the band's signature tunes:


The bandmembers are flying in specially for this show, arranged by radio sponsor 97.3 FM (the record label is picking up the tab for their expenses).

Additionally, Fawcett says there will be all sorts of other activities for young and old alike, including video games, a Flag Football contest, face-painting and a massive, inflatable, outdoor laser tag course capable of handling up to 50 participants at once.

“This will be the biggest yet, and it’s gonna be outrageous,” she enthuses.

“The first year we raised almost $7,000. Then we raised almost $17,000. This year, there’s no telling how much we’ll raise, especially because we’re raffling off a Harley Davidson Sportster 883L and a matching trailer donated by Harley Davidson of Savannah.”

“The raffle tickets are only $20 each, and there’s only a couple thousand of them, so folks have a very good chance of winning. It would be ridiculous not to at least buy one ticket, since all the proceeds go to such a worthy cause.”

That cause would be to help defray the medical expenses of Christian Newell and his family. The 11-year-old suffers from an extraordinarily rare brain disease known as Cranium Brain Hypertension. Reportedly, there are only 48 other victims in the U.S.

While his family’s insurance covers a good portion of the treatment itself, Fawcett says travel expenses have put a terrible burden on Christian’s mother Wendy (his father is currently in Iraq).

“Christian plays with my 12-year-old son in our neighborhood,” she relates. “He might appear to be in normal health, but he’s actually very ill. I had no idea to what degree he was suffering.”

Raffle tickets will be on sale at the event (the drawing is a few days later) as well as at Harley Davidson of Savannah, Spanky’s Southside and at Liquid Ginger’s gigs. Read the full interview here. cs

3rd Annual Savannah Chili Bowl

When: Noon-5 p.m., Sunday

Where: Forsyth Park

Cost: Free (donations for refreshments)