As the temperatures cool down for the few weeks that pass for winter in Savannah, a cup of chili starts to sound like a nice way to warm up. This Sunday, try 25 different cups of chili for a good cause and trade heart burn for heart–warming at the fourth annual Chili Bowl.
The day–long event in Forsyth Park will raise money for Help Save One of Our Own, a local organization that provides financial assistance to local families suffering with exorbitant medical costs from extraordinary circumstances.
Founded by local rock favorite Ginger Fawcett, of Liquid Ginger fame, and the band’s manager Danny Mitchell, the Chili Bowl has helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for families in the community.
“We really wanted to give back to the community,” Mitchell explains. “And instead of giving to a national organization, we wanted to keep the money here and have it go directly to a family.”
They’ve been able to help when it was needed most. Even for families that have insurance covering some of the costs associated with illness, when unique case arises, there are numerous unforeseen costs that pile up quickly, particularly if special treatments are necessary.
“Last year the little boy that we worked with, his mother had about $35,000 in bills,” says Mitchell. “The only area that could treat him effectively was this hospital in Ohio and the insurance companies don’t pay for all the gas and hotels and down time of missing employment, just trying to keep her son normal.”
The Chili Bowl will feature 25 different competitors, drawn largely from local restaurants, in a no holds barred cook–off, judged by the Deen Brothers, for a trophy and the title of best chili. There is also live music from Liquid Ginger, Keith & Ross, Cartel and Sing Savannah, as well as a flag football tournament and interactive entertainment for kids.
The proceeds from the event all go to Help Save One of Our Own, a local 501c3 started about 15 years ago by a group of local doctors.
Once the money has been raised, the board of doctors reviews all the bills from the chosen family and decides how and where the money will be used. Choosing which family to help is usually the hardest part.
“We could probably get 600 or 1000 applicants that really need the help, so it’s through word of mouth, and we get about 30 to 40 applicants,” Mitchell explains.
Out of that group, three or four final candidates are selected, and then submitted to the board, who makes the final decision. The choice this year was difficult enough that for the first time since the inception of the Chili Bowl, funds will be raised for two individuals instead of one.
Everyone involved is hoping that this year’s event will be the biggest yet in order to help the two recipients; Morgan Mason, a seven year–old boy born prematurely and suffering from gastroschisis, a condition where some of his intestines are outside his abdomen, and Reggie Sheppard, a father of two who needs a kidney transplant that will cost $100,000, and which must be pre–paid before he can receive the surgery. Last year’s event drew over 5,000 people and helped raise over $20,000.
“Every year we’re looking at growing it bigger and bigger,” says Mitchell. “This year, we’re hoping we’ll top 6,000 people.”
4th Annual Chili Bowl
When: Sunday, December 6, 12–4 p.m.
Where: Forsyth Park, Bull Street at Gaston
Cost: Wristbands to enter chili tasting are $10/adults, $5/kids