Marlene Collins, right, won the UTV that was raffled to benefit Hospice of Care. Courtney Owens, Hospice director, and Jay Gentry, TCMH Healthcare Foundation director, joined Collins in trying out her big win.

A record setting $68,742 — surpassing last year’s mark of $55,216 — was raised at the fifth annual TCMH Healthcare Foundation Chili Cook Off in Houston.

More than 450 people participated in the event held inside the community building at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds. The Healthcare Foundation sponsors the annual Chili Cook Off to benefit the TCMH Hospice of Care.

Eighteen chili-cooking teams – outfitted with themes ranging from diamonds and dogs to camouflage — served up their best meat and bean, red or white, hot or mild chili recipes.

Donations came in the form of sponsorships by area businesses for chili teams, corporate and entertainment sponsorships, cash donations and donations of items for the auctions. Chili teams also raised money prior to the event and at the event. In addition to musical entertainment, a live auction, many silent auctions and a cakewalk also provided entertainment.

Jay Gentry, director of the Healthcare Foundation, organized the Chili Cook Off.

“Once again we received tremendous support from area businesses and individuals in donating to this important community cause,” he said.

A festive atmosphere filled the fairgrounds on Saturday as attendees poured in to taste chili.

“Chili Dogs” a team from the Animal Shelter of Texas County, served up a “puperoni” chili and wore dog costumes.

“Dr. Mueller and Dr. Stubb’s OR Bushwackers” served a white chili, and several teams offered “hot” or “mild” chili.

Fritos, cheese, onions, sour cream and milk were served up as accompaniments to the chili, and St. John’s physician assistant David Shoup and the clinic staff again provided bite-sized corn pancakes with their “Mercy Melt Down” chili.

“There’s something here for everyone to enjoy,” said Courtney Owens, nurse manager of TCMH Hospice of Care.

Louie, the Springfield Cardinal’s mascot, made an appearance, dancing on stage to music by the DJ, posing with the cook off teams and giving autographs. The younger set enjoyed popcorn, balloons, grab bags and soda in glass bottles being sold or given away at cook off booths. A giant blow up slide was also available for the kids to play on.

A bull riding machine was also on site. Several well known individuals in the community took a ride to benefit charity.

Dozens of homemade cakes were given away at the Hospice of Care pie and cake booth, which featured a cakewalk for a dollar. The cakewalks were enjoyed by young and old alike. The Hospice of Care staff also held silent auctions for homemade pies and other treats.

Adults were drawn to silent auctions featuring baskets of seasonal decorations, pet supplies and beauty products; artwork by local artists and tickets and gift certificates to various places in the area. Teams held raffles or silent auctions for televisions, taxidermy, handmade items and St. Louis Cardinals and Mizzou gear.

Chili booths were decorated in many different ways. Raymondville United Methodist Church had angels and devils in their “Hotter than Hell but Closer to Heaven” themed booth. “Buckalicious” was Landmark Bank’s theme featuring a trophy buck mascot. Big Country 99’s “Brewhahahahaha” featured a news anchor desk with a large sports backdrop that was built by the team.

The Healthcare Foundation held two raffles as a way to raise money prior to and during the event. Terry Moore of Houston won the rifle. Marlene Collins of Houston won the Club Car UTV.

Three chili judges representing sponsors and supporters of the event were Earleen Holder from Progressive Ozark Bank in Houston, Jay Loveland from Wehr Motors of Mountain Grove and Dr. Schaun Flaim of the TCMH Medical Complex in Houston. Prizes were given to the chili teams who were competing in several different categories.

“Judge’s choice” and first place went to “Spittin’ Fish-TCMH Dietary Department” sponsored by Dr. Phil Brackett, and the cook off judges awarded second place to “Diamonds and Spurs-Community Bank, N.A.” The third place “Judge’s choice” went to “Chili Dogs-The Animal Shelter of Texas County” sponsored Romines Motor Company of Houston.

“Chili with the Most Kick” prize went to “Afterburners-TCMH EMS” sponsored by Kerr Healthcare Services LLC.

First place in the “best booth” decorating category went to “Divalysscious-VIP Properties” for a booth and costumes with bling-diamonds, silver, animal prints and lots of pink. Also sporting bling with cowboy boots and winning second place was “Diamonds and Spurs.” “Weird Science-Houston School Administrative Team” won third place in booth decorating with a laboratory theme that featured skeleton models and beakers of colored liquids.

Everyone in attendance was given a ballot to vote for the “people’s choice” in chili. The “Spittin’ Fish” won first place in the people’s choice category followed by “Diamonds and Spurs” in second place and “Chili Dogs” in third place.

TCMH employees in attendance were given the opportunity to vote for the “TCMH choice,” and “Afterburners” won the hospital employee award for the third year in a row.

The Chili Cook Off teams contributed a large amount to the funds raised for Hospice of Care, contributing a total of $29,265. Chili-cooking teams raised money for their teams prior to and during the cook off. Seven teams raised more than $2,000 apiece.

“Big Country 99ers Brewhahahaha” won first in “team fundraising” with $6,136. Second went to “Diamonds and Spurs” with $4,477. Third place went to “Doc Rasmussen’s Defensive Line” for raising $2,703.

The auction of a motorcycle donated by Wehr Motors assisted the Big Country 99ers Brewhahahaha by making $3,750 for the team when Fred Donaway of Cabool purchased the machine. Jay Loveland of Wehr Motors helped make the presentation to Donaway and spoke about the importance of hospice care for him and his family during the illness and death of his father.

“Hospice did a great job taking care of my father, but it’s what they did for my family that made a lasting impression that we will never forget,” Loveland said.

Prior to the live auction portion of the event, Dr. Charlie Rasmussen, the Hospice of Care medical staff director, spoke about the local hospice service.

“It’s wonderful that we have this service so close to home,” Rasmussen said.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation and Hospice of Care use some of the funds from the Cook Off to have an “on call” physician position for Hospice of Care patient to ensure that a physician is always available to provide 24/7 care to Hospice of Care patients and to admit new patients into the Hospice of Care program whenever needed. Rasmussen serves as the “on call” physician for Hospice of Care.

“Hospice of Care is doing great work in our community,” Rasmussen said, recounting the story of a one-month old baby with a heart defect that was placed on hospice service.

“The family did not have the funds to provide care for the child, and we were able to care for the baby until the end of her life using funds raised by the Chili Cook Off,” Rasmussen said. “We really appreciate your support.”

Families that were in Hospice of Care service in 2011 were present at the Cook Off. Some families also made donations to the Healthcare Foundation to benefit Hospice of Care at the Chili Cook Off.

Marian McKinney of McKinney Forge and Design Studio in Bucyrus donated copper for a pie safe in memory of her late husband, Charlie McKinney. Harold Mitchell made the pie safe and donated it in memory of his mother, Caroline Mitchell, a patient of Hospice of Care.

The TCMH Healthcare Foundation and Hospice of Care also gave special recognition to Elk Creek Baptist Church, which has raised funds and volunteered at the Chili Cook Off since the event’s inception in 2007. The church also presented $1,000 to Hospice

“We could not do what we do without the community support and partnerships that we have,” Gentry said.

Gentry also presented plaques of recognition to five groups that have had teams in the Chili Cook Off since the first one in 2007-Houston Schools Future Business Leaders of America; Gentry Residential Treatment Center; Big Country 99; Houston Walmart Supercenter; Dr. Rasmussen and the TCMH Medical Complex; and TCMH Emergency Medical Services.

Owens and the Hospice of Care staff recognized Plato School junior art student Melissa Cimenello for winning the art contest the hospice group sponsored prior to the chili cook off.

Area high school art departments were invited to have their students participated in drawing a design for a T-shirt for the Hospice of Care staff. Ciminello won the contest. All of the designs received were displayed at the Chili Cook Off.

Owens also introduced her staff to those present, and she thanked attendees for their support of Hospice of Care.

“The Hospice staff and I are incredibly impressed and thankful for the community support that has been shown to us,” Owens said.

Owens commended the teams that put in a long day making and serving chili as well as the time they put in creating teams with themes, decorating booths and raising money prior to and at the event.

After Saturday’s event, the cook off raised $48,992 in cash donations and $19,750 in in-kind donations. The live auction grossed $9,737 and the UTV and rifle raffles grossed more than $12,200 in donations. All the proceeds raised by the Chili Cook Off support Hospice of Care and remain in Texas County to benefit area residents.

The Healthcare Foundation has a special “Hospice Fund” where the Cook Off funds and other donations to Hospice of Care are held. In addition to helping patients regardless of their ability to pay for services, the hospice funds have been used to purchase special furniture for the hospice rooms at the hospital.

Plans are already underway to hold the sixth annual TCMH Healthcare Foundation Chili Cook Off on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. More details about the event will be available from the TCMH Healthcare Foundation.



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