Plans are under way for a benefit that aids the TCMH Healthcare Foundation.

The 11th annual Chili Cook Off was dedicated to the memory of Dr. I.C. Keeney, a longtime supporter of TCMH Hospice of Care and a veterinarian who spent more than 50 years working in Texas County.

The annual event was 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday (today) inside the community building at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds. The Texas County Memorial Hospital Healthcare Foundation is again hosting the event to raise funds to benefit TCMH Hospice of Care.

For the past 11 years, Keeney and his wife, Margaret, and their friends, John and Jeannie Beltz of Willow Springs, donated a beef purchased at the county fair to raise funds for the Chili Cook Off and Hospice of Care. Before the inception of the cook off, the Keeney and Beltz families purchased a beef that was donated to Hospice of Care to raise funds for the organization.

Keeney also served as the honorary chair of the “Care for Your Future” Healthcare Foundation steering committee that raised funds to build the tornado safe room and surgery center at TCMH. Keeney considered the hospital to be an important part of Texas County.

“Dr. Keeney’s donations were always an important part of our annual auction for Hospice of Care, and we wanted to honor his legacy of giving to the hospital by dedicating the Chili Cook Off to him this year,” said Jay Gentry, healthcare foundation director. 

Gentry, who oversees the chili cook off and related fundraising activities for Hospice of Care, said the Keeney family raised additional funds for the event through a family event earlier in the year, and they are taking a role in the events at the cook off. 

“In 2016 the foundation brought in $47,862 for Hospice of Care,” Gentry said. “We have a tradition of holding an event that provides fun and entertainment for all ages and raises much-needed funds for a really good cause.” 

This year’s chili cook off will feature 15 teams competing for chili prizes and in raising money for Hospice of Care.  The event will also feature live music by the band The Faretheewells, a live auction, chili dog eating contest and booths with special foods or games as well as the opportunity to sample all the chili.

Chili cooking teams are comprised of five people and are sponsored by businesses and organizations: Raymondville United Methodist Church; Houston Walmart Supercenter; Houston R-1 Schools; Gentry Residential Treatment Center; Peoples Community Bank; The Bank of Houston; Air Evac Lifeteam; Forbes Pharmacy Powered by Walgreens; TCMH Mountain Grove Clinic; Justin Shelby and State Farm Insurance; Drury University; CoxHealth Home Support; Dr. Christopher Baldwin; Dr. Randal Qualls; Dr. Jonathan Beers; Dr. Juan Mella; and Dr. Cory Offutt.

“We added live music to this cook off again this year, and hope that brings out some additional guests that just want to eat chili and listen to music,” Gentry said. 

The four-person band, The Faretheewells, hail from Ellington, which is known for upbeat Americana original music and covers. They will begin at 11 a.m.

The 2 p.m. auction will be a major portion of the fundraising for the day. The auction features handmade and donated items, including a vacation getaway to Estes Park, Colo., crossbow, YETI brand cooler, fire pit and rustic oak rocking chair and side table. Harold Mitchell made a portable bar with storage in the back and a natural edged top of cedar wood to honor of his mother, who was in Hospice of Care service. Other unique, donated items in the auction include a king-size, homemade quilt by Arlene Brill and a handcrafted oak pie safe by Jimi McClenahan.

Two large raffle items will also be awarded to winners. Teams raffling tickets for a Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle and a Del-Ton DT Sport AR-15.  The raffle items will be immediately awarded following the live auction.

Brandon Beck, meteorologist at Springfield television station KY3, will again serve as the master of ceremonies for the day’s events.

“Hospice of Care has a long tradition and a well-known reputation for providing physical, mental and spiritual care for terminally ill patients and their family members in Texas County and the surrounding area regardless of their ability to pay for the services,” Gentry said. “Many people look forward to the annual hospice fundraising event as a way to give back to a charity that has benefited them, their family or friends.”

Hospice of Care provides end of life care for patients and their families regardless of a patient’s ability to pay for the service. If insurance coverage is not available, Hospice of Care may use chili cook off funds to purchase medications in addition to providing care free. Hospice of Care also uses funds from the cook off for palliative care training and materials for patients and the family and friends of hospice patients.

“Our goal is to raise at least $40,000 for Hospice of Care through the raffles, cook off ticket sales, the auction and team fundraising,” Gentry said.

The proceeds from the chili cook off remain in Texas County to benefit area residents, Gentry said.

The foundation has a special “Hospice Fund” for the chili cook off money and other hospice donations such as memorials.  “A very important aspect of the annual Hospice of Care fundraising event is that all money raised at the event will stay in the Texas County area to benefit area patients,” Gentry said.

“We want everyone to come out to our event, bring their kids, and have an afternoon of fun while raising money for a very worthy cause,” Gentry said. “Once again, the foundation board of directors and Hospice of Care staff are excited to bring this event to the community.”

Tickets to the event are $10 for adults and $5 for children and are available through Hospice of Care and the healthcare foundation at TCMH. 

For more information about a sponsorship or to make a gift in support of the chili cook off, contact the TCMH Healthcare Foundation at 417-967-1377 or visit 

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